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San Diego restaurant owners charged with COVID relief fraud, money laundering

Posted at 2:43 PM, May 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-24 17:43:29-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Two San Diego restaurant owners have been charged with fraud and money laundering for allegedly falsifying their applications for pandemic relief money, the U.S. Attorney's office said Tuesday.

Prosecutors say a grand jury indictment was returned charging Leronce Suel, 46, and RaVae Smith, 45, with underreporting more than $1.7 million in gross receipts on a corporate tax return in order to qualify for pandemic- related loans.

The indictment states that the defendants owned Rockstar Dough LLC and Chicken Feed LLC, which operated multiple San Diego restaurants.

The U.S. Attorney's Office alleges there were also "materially false certifications" made on the loan applications regarding how the money would be used. Prosecutors also allege Suel and Smith withdrew cash from business bank accounts to launder the allegedly ill-gotten funds and hid over $2.4 million in cash at their home.

Suel and Smith made their initial appearance in San Diego federal court on Tuesday.

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