The Mayor of Mt. Vernon has ordered an investigation into whether any employees improperly tried to profit off the federal Paycheck Protection Program, a city spokesman said.
The city review is underway after some area residents report being questioned by FBI agents about a possible Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud scheme that could involve dozens of people in Mt. Vernon and other areas of Westchester County, city sources tell News 4. A handful of city employees may be facing scrutiny for possible involvement, one source added.
Mt. Vernon city spokesman Daniel Terry said the mayor decided to launch the “internal investigation” amid “rumors” of an ongoing federal investigation focusing of nearly 100 city employees. Spokesmen for the FBI and US Attorney’s office declined to comment.
People familiar with the matter say investigators want to know if local ringleaders were running a scheme that asked residents to falsely file PPP claims to improperly obtain a $10,000 taxpayer-funded loan. The money would then be split between organizers and the resident, the sources said.
Terry said the city has not been told of any formal investigation by the US Attorney and FBI. However, several residents have said they have been approached by FBI agents, according to sources. News of the investigation was first reported by News 12 Westchester.
In a Facebook video, Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard said “rumors” that up to 100 employees could be charged are “innuendos” and there “is nothing to report or to respond to” at this time because the city has not been contacted by the FBI or other federal or state agencies. The mayor added no criminal charges have been filed or made public to date.