A father and son from Beverly Hills were sentenced on Dec. 12 for defrauding government programs created to help businesses survive during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ramiro Da Rosa Mendes, 61, was sentenced to three years and five months in federal prison by United States District Judge Percy Anderson, who also ordered him to pay $2.2 million in restitution. In a separate case, Anderson sentenced Ammon Jose de Pina Mendes, 27, to 21 months in federal prison and ordered him to pay $222,225 in restitution. Both defendants pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in September.
Federal authorities said that from April to August 2020, Ramiro Mendes schemed to fraudulently obtain federal disaster relief funds distributed through the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs. Ramiro Mendes claimed to own numerous fake businesses based in Beverly Hills, including One Wilshire Enterprises, Professional Music Services and MB Property Management Group LLC. The companies did not exist prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and did not have any operations or employees, prosecutors said.
He also claimed to be the owner of fake real estate services companies, including Ramiro Mendes Real Estate Services, Real Estate Services and Real Estate Invesst-ments, also purportedly located in Beverly Hills and Massachusetts, as well as other businesses registered in Wyoming.
Ramiro Mendes submitted 19 applications for PPP and EIDL loans that contained false and fraudulent information on payroll expenses, phony tax forms and the operational status of the businesses. On June 24, 2020, Ramiro Mendes submitted a fraudulent PPP loan application to a Florida-based bank seeking a loan of $975,100. The loan application falsely stated that One Wilshire Enterprises employed 18 people, had an average monthly payroll of $390,040, and according to a false tax form, earned $4,810,149 in revenue in 2019. Based on the false information, the bank approved and funded a PPP loan for $793,300. The loan amount was wired into a bank account Mendes controlled. Prosecutors said Ramiro Mendes used the proceeds from the loans for his own personal benefit, including the purchase of cryptocurrency. He admitted in court that he fraudulently obtained at least $2.2 million.
Ammon Mendes admitted that he used information from fake businesses to fraudulently obtain $225,225 in PPP and EIDL loans. Another son of Ramiro Mendes – Mateus Pina Mendes, 33, of downtown Los Angeles – previously pleaded guilty in September to wire fraud and admitted fraudulently obtaining $143,283 in PPP and EIDL loans. Mateus Mendes is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 10.
Anyone with information about attempted fraud involving COVID-19 programs is encouraged to call the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at (866 720-5721, or visit justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
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