LEHIGH ACRES — A Lee County couple that operated a handyman and repair business out of their home has been charged in a federal pandemic relief loan scam, where authorities allege they defrauded the government out of nearly $1 million.
Amber Rewis Bruey, 34, and Anthony James Bruey, 35, a married couple from Lehigh Acres, have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and illegal monetary transactions. According to the indictment, beginning in or around April 2020 — and while they were both on probation for state criminal charges — the Brueys conspired to submit false and fraudulent Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Paycheck Protection Program applications to the SBA and PPP loan servicers and lenders. The loan applications contained numerous false representations, including the criminal history, dates of operation, number of employees and gross revenues of the applicant, authorities contend. In support of their fraudulent EIDL and PPP loan applications, officials allege the Brueys submitted false and fictitious federal income tax documents.
“The Brueys’ materially false, fraudulent and misleading representations caused the SBA and PPP lenders to approve and fund six EIDL and six PPP loans, totaling $881,058.35,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Authorities contend the Brueys then unlawfully used the funds to purchase a $211,457 residence in North Carolina; a 2019 GMC Yukon SUV; a 2020 Honda Talon; and to make a $23,566 restitution payment as a condition of probation in a criminal court case for Amber Bruey. The indictment also notifies the Brueys that the government intends to forfeit the North Carolina home and the Yukon and Talon, in addition to a 2020 Polaris RZR and $881,058.35, “which are alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the offense,” the release states.
No information was provided as to what charges the couple was on probation for, or where the offenses were committed. The United States Secret Service investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorneys Trent Reichling and Suzanne Nebesky will prosecute it.