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A Miami man used his dead business and sold condo for a $920,000 COVID-19 relief fraud

Miami Herald logo Miami Herald 11/23/2021 David J. Neal, Miami Herald

Carlos Vazquez’s Big League LLC was a dormant business when the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. So, how did Big League have 64 employees, pay them $4.425 million during the 2019 tax year and become eligible for a Paycheck Protection Program loan of $921,875?

Big League didn’t and Big League wasn’t. Vazquez, 57, lied on the PPP loan application, an untruth that fell under conspiracy to commit wire fraud because the PPP lender was based in Georgia. Vazquez was sentenced to three and a half years in federal prison and $921,875 restitution this week.

And, thus, does the Miami metropolitan area continue earning its reputation as the capital of fraud. The region that’s been No. 1 in Medicare fraud for years turned COVID-19 relief programs for businesses into another flowering form of fraud. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida leads the nation in people prosecuted for COVID-19 fraud, 60.

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Big League, little to no business

Online records say Vazquez registered Big League LLC with the state of Florida on May 23, 2016, using the address of unit No. 408 at Aragon Towers that online Miami-Dade property records say Vazquez bought in 2015. Vazquez sold the apartment at Aragon, 5249 NW Seventh St. on March 17, 2019 to Oscar Estevez for $50,000, the same amount he paid for it.

Meanwhile, Vazquez didn’t file any annual reports for Big League. As his guilty plea states, “As of Feb. 15, 2020, Big League was not in operation and had no employees. Big League has never registered to file taxes in Florida with the Department of Revenue.”

But, after as economic relief programs unfolded, Vazquez got Big League reinstated with the state of Florida on June 24, 2020. On June 29, 2020, Vazquez opened a Chase Bank account for Big League. Vazquez’s admission of facts says he and “Individual No. 1” applied for a PPP loan on June 30, 2020.

That application claimed Big League was in operation on Feb. 15; that it had an average monthly payroll of $368,750; that it had 64 employees; and that, as a (fraudulent) 2019 tax year W-3 form showed, it had paid those employees $4,425,000.

None of that was true.

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