Hilo resident Carey Mills, 47, was sentenced in federal court on Wednesday to 42 months in federal prison for wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud the federal government of program funds intended for Covid-19-related relief.

Chief U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson also imposed a five-year term of supervised release and ordered Mills to pay $957,575 in restitution to the Small Business Administration.

“Carey Mills stole federal funds that provided a lifeline to our small businesses struggling as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Clare Connors. “While this is the first Covid-19 program fraud sentencing in the District of Hawaii, the department is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who, like Mills, harmed both small businesses in need of these PPP and EIDL funds as well as the taxpayers who supported these programs.”

The Paycheck Protection Program is a federal loan program intended to help small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic by providing them with funds to cover certain payroll costs, including benefits, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. According to court documents, Mills submitted fraudulent documents using interstate wires purportedly from three businesses under his control.

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan is a separate federal program providing low-interest loans and grants to small businesses that experience substantial financial disruptions due to federally declared disasters, including the coronavirus pandemic.

At the sentencing hearing, the prosecution highlighted the fact Mills used the federal relief money to fund personal expenses, including the purchase of eight vehicles and two residential properties.

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