ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Federal prosecutors want to confiscate property from a convicted felon in Albuquerque who they say defrauded the Paycheck Protection Program system during the pandemic. Through the CARES Act, federal paperwork showed Bryan Gardea and two other people were approved for PPP loans related to the pandemic for almost a million dollars.

Investigators believe he lied on his application forms about his business which is something the Federal Government is seeing across the nation and is working to combat. “Those who saw the government’s response as an opportunity to enrich themselves. Anticipating what was to come, each of your agencies assembled teams to prevent, detect, and where appropriate prosecute those who defraud government programs,” said Lisa Monaco, Deputy Attorney General.

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Last May, the United States Attorney General created a COVID-19 task force that administers and oversees pandemic relief funding. An investigation found Gardea allegedly used PPP money to pay for vacant land, book a private jet from Albuquerque to Las Vegas, Nevada, build three homes, spend thousands at Louis Vitton, and even bought vehicles.

That money was supposed to go towards keeping his business alive and put those funds towards things like payroll costs, rent, and utilities. Workforce Solutions showed one of the companies he put down didn’t have any employees from January 2018 to September 2021.

Now, there’s a new task force to lead the Department of Justice’s criminal and civil enforcement efforts to stop COVID-19-related fraud. “I’m looking forward to building on that work and re-doubling on our efforts to identify pandemic fraud, to charge and prosecute those individuals responsible and whenever possible, to recover funds stolen from the American people,” said Kevin Chamber, director of the Covid Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

The Feds are asking to seize one of the properties in Rio Rancho. They say he lied because he didn’t also put on the form that he was a convicted felon. He pled guilty to fraud charges in Bernalillo County in 2020. No criminal charges have been filed.