March 23, 2021 By Christina Santucci
A Queensbridge man has been indicted for fraudulently obtaining a $1.7 million loan under the pandemic Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), federal officials said.
Gelpys Joel Peralta-Gutierrez – also known as Joel Peralta – had arranged for the PPP loan for his company – J Films HD Inc., claiming he had 62 employees working out of his Queensbridge apartment with a total monthly payroll of nearly $700,000, authorities said
The application was deemed bogus, with the feds saying that he didn’t have 62 employees nor the revenue to justify a loan of that size. PPP loans are attractive, since they are forgivable if certain conditions are met.
The PPP loan application filed by J Films HD included an IRS form that stated that the company had paid its employees more than $8.3 million in 2019, according to the indictment. The business was then extended a loan of $1,747,028.
Peralta-Gutierrez, 31, also said his business was based at the same address as where he lives in NYCHA’s Queensbridge Houses, according to court documents.
An FBI agent said it was “highly improbable” that he would have 62 people working out of his apartment, according to court documents.
Furthermore, in other applications where he sought pandemic relief, Peralta-Gutierrez said he only employed one person, and had total revenues of about $50,000, the feds said.
“As alleged, Peralta-Gutierrez claimed falsely that he needed government loan benefits to pay his employees during the pandemic, but instead deliberately lined his own pockets with $1.7 million,” said Acting United States Attorney Lesko, in a statement.
After the loan was disbursed, Peralta-Gutierrez opened a digital currency account – used for cryptocurrency — and sent $25,000 from the bank account where the loan was deposited to the new currency account, according to court documents.
It is not clear what happened with the rest of the money.
Peralta-Gutierrez was arrested last month, and a federal grand jury returned his indictment for wire fraud conspiracy Monday. He is expected to be arraigned on Monday, March 29.
His attorney, Michael Daniel Weil, declined to comment about the case.
If convicted, Peralta-Gutierrez faces up to 20 years in prison and would have to give back the money.
“Peralta, as alleged, took advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program, which was created to provide emergency financial assistance to businesses who need it during the pandemic,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney, in a statement.
The PPP loans were created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help struggling companies.
The amount of money that companies can receive is determined by their number of employees and average payroll for 2.5 months, federal documents stated.
The Small Business Association is still offering loans through the program until March 31.