Nov. 25—A 47-year-old Hilo man has been sentenced to 42 months in federal prison for defrauding the federal government out of nearly $1 million in COVID-19 relief funds.
A 47-year-old Hilo man has been sentenced to 42 months in federal prison for defrauding the federal government out of nearly $1 million in COVID-19 relief funds.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson on Tuesday sentenced Carey Mills to a five-year term of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution to the Small Business Administration in the amount of $937, 575.
Mills pleaded guilty in May to a single count of mail fraud.
According to court documents and evidence presented in court, Mills submitted multiple applications for Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan program funds on behalf of his three businesses—Kanaka Maoli Hookupu Center, New Way Horizon Travel and Uilani Kawailehua Foundation—each time utilizing interstate wires to submit the fake applications.
Mills faked information on payroll documents and IRS forms, which included false employee and wage payment records to increase the amount of money he would qualify for. Mills ended up receiving $937, 575 in the form of two forgivable PPP loans, one EIDL loan and one EIDL grant.
At the sentencing, prosecuting attorneys pointed out that Mills used the federal money to fund personal expenses, including the purchase of eight vehicles and two residential properties.
"Stealing $1 million of federal funds is no joke, " the judge said.
"Carey Mills stole federal funds that provided a lifeline to our small businesses struggling as a result of the COVID-
19 pandemic, " Hawaii's U.S. Attorney Clare E. Connors said in a news release, adding that her department is committed to investigating and prosecuting anyone who would harm both small businesses in need of these PPP and EIDL funds as well as the taxpayers who supported these programs.