Jacksonville man imprisoned for COVID relief fraud

Published on December 5, 2023 at 12:37 pm

A Jacksonville man has been sentenced to prison for fradulently obtaining $910,000 in COVID relief funds and using it to finance a lavish lifestyle, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Kenneth Steven Landers, 57, applied for $1.41 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans 10 times in 2020 and 2021. He submitted the applications on behalf of four corporate entities he controlled: the American Fallen Veterans Service Project Inc., Tire Empire LLC, Maypops LLC, and Florida United Inc. 

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To support the applications, Landers submitted fictitious or altered IRS tax forms, prosecutors said.

Seven of the loans were approved. Landers used to money to pay off the mortgages on his home and business, buy an 18-karat gold Rolex watch and buy a vinage Jaguar XKE Roadster. He also wrote checks to himself, paid off personal debt, transferred money to his personal accounts and made about $113,000 in cash withdrawals traceable to PPP proceeds, the U.S. attorney said.

“The ripple effects of the COVID pandemic are still being felt throughout society today,” IRS-CI Acting Special Agent In Charge Tara K. Reed said in a news release. “Kenneth Steven Landers saw this global crisis as an opportunity to line his own pockets.”

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Landers pleaded guilty Feb. 14 to wire fraud and engaging in an illegal monetary transaction. U.S. Distsrict Judge Marcia Morales Howard sentenced him Monday to a year and a day in federal prison.

Landers also was ordered to forfeit $910,000, the proceeds of his scheme.

author image Senior News Editor

Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, where as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He has spent more than 40 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida. 

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