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Helena man admits bank fraud in COVID-19 relief scheme

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Law

A 48-year-old Helena man admitted in federal court Wednesday to several crimes stemming from a scheme to defraud a bank of more than $1 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans, said U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson in a press release.

Trevor Gene Lanius McLeod pleaded guilty to bank fraud and to engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release for the bank fraud crime.

PPP loans are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The government alleged that in April 2021, the defendant had applied for four PPP loans through Valley Bank of Helena and lied on the applications and accompanying documentation. Due to this misinformation, McLeod received approximately $1,043,000 in fraudulent funds from the four loans.

McLeod is alleged to have applied for a PPP loan for $340,000 on behalf of Renovated Montana Properties LLP, a company he controls. The application claimed that McLeod stated the company had paid payroll taxes and had 25 employees. The company had not paid payroll taxes and did not have employees other than McLeod. He would not have qualified for this loan without misinformation being on the application, according to Johnson's press release.

The government also alleges that McLeod used the money on personal expenses such as paying his mortgage.

Co-defendant Kasey Jones Wilson of Laurel pleaded guilty to bank fraud and is awaiting sentencing.

This case was investigated in cooperation with the IRS-Criminal Investigation and the FBI, with assistance from the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and U.S. Secret Service.

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