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Rolex, mortgages, vintage car: Jacksonville man spends close to $1 million from COVID relief scheme

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — One more person responsible for defrauding the government and his employees out of money marked for COVID relief has been sentenced to prison.

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The Department of Justice announced that Kenneth Steven Landers, 57, Jacksonville, will spend one year and one day in federal prison for wire fraud and engaging in an illegal monetary transaction.

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According to court documents, Landers applied for federally backed Paycheck Protection Program loans as part of COVID relief for businesses a total of 10 times. He requested $1.41 million by submitting false information and documents, including fake or altered Internal Revenue Service tax forms.

Those 10 requests for funds were made using four different corporate companies under Landers’ control. These included the American Fallen Veterans Service Project Inc., Tire Empire LLC, Maypops LLC, and Florida United Inc.

Read: Scams, fraud, rip-offs: Florida is the con capital of the civilized world

The Department of Justice said that seven of the 10 PPP loan applications were approved and a total of $910,000 was deposited into Landers’ bank accounts.

However, Landers did not use that money to pay employees or for company expenses.

The DOJ said he spent the cash to pay off the mortgages on his home and business property, purchased an 18kt gold Rolex watch, and bought a vintage Jaguar XKE Roadster sports car. As part of the PPP loans, $113,000 in cash was withdrawn by Landers. That money was traceable to the PPP loans.

Read: ‘This is not a victimless crime:’ 20 arrested for $5 million Medicaid fraud scheme in Jacksonville

“The ripple effects of the COVID pandemic are still being felt throughout society today. Kenneth Steven Landers saw this global crisis as an opportunity to line his own pockets. IRS-CI is committed to pursuing these bad actors and ensuring that those who falsely manipulate the system are prosecuted to the fullest extent,” IRS-CI Acting Special Agent In Charge Tara K. Reed said. “Today’s sentencing demonstrates that criminals will pay a heavy price when they steal funds intended to provide much needed relief to many Americans who were in financial despair.”

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As part of his sentence, Landers was ordered forfeiture of $910,000 and to pay full restitution to his victims.

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