Group America gang boss accused of misusing COVID-19 bailout funds

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Though soon to be freed after serving 16 months for illegal firearms possession, the suspected leader of a crime clan called Group America will now remain in a New York jail for misusing the country’s COVID-19 bailout funds.

Mileta Miljanić, alleged leader of Group America. (Photo: CRIK)Mileta Miljanić, the Serbian-American drug lord with alleged ties to the Gambino crime family, is now facing federal charges for requesting and receiving a COVID-19 bailout to which he was not entitled, according to a recent report complaint.

According to the document, Miljanić faces charges of wire fraud and making false statements to the US Small Business Administration (SBA).

He applied for government aid through his company, MDP Rebar Solutions LLC (MDP Rebar). However, authorities claim that the construction company was mainly used to launder millions of dollars and siphon money from various state funds. The money was then distributed among Miljanić’s close relatives, as well as members and partners of organized crime networks.

To provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans affected by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Congress passed federal legislation — the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (WORRY) Act – in March 2020.

Among other things, the CARES Act expanded the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which offered small businesses soft loans of up to $2 million prior to May 2020 and up to $150,000 beginning in May 2020.

The program could have been used to cover higher expenses due to supply chain disruptions, to meet commitments that could not be met due to lost income, and for other similar purposes. An applicant must have suffered “serious economic harm” as a result of COVID-19 to be eligible for an EIDL under the CARES Act.

“Around March 2020, Mileta Miljanić, the Defendant, filed and caused the filing of an SBA EIDL that contained false information about the income and expenses of Miljanić’s company, MDP Rebar Solutions LLC (MDP Rebar), resulting in approximately US$154,900 dollars led by the SBA,” the document said.

It further explained that, among other things, it informed the SBA that MDP Rebar conducted approved operations and defined gross revenues and expenses in the years leading up to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“In fact, MDP Rebar does not appear to engage in any lawful activity, but instead is a shell company through which millions of dollars are passed to organized crime members and allies,” the complaint reads.

The affidavit also shows that Miljanić’s company held bank accounts with three different financial institutions from December 2018 to May 2021.

During that time, MDP rebar accounts received approximately $6.8 million, the document said.

About 84% of the money, or $5.7 million, came from a construction company owned and controlled by an individual suspected of being an associate of the Gambino crime family, while about 12%, or $810,000 came from Miljanić or members of his family. The remaining 3%, or $202,000, came from the SBA.

Miljanić was sentenced to six years in prison in Italy in 2010 for cocaine trafficking. Four years later he was placed on leave, but he dropped out of the program and fled to the United States

For years, OCCRP, KRIK and the Czech news agency Investigace.cz have been tracking Group America – a decades-old criminal organization with roots in New York and the Balkans that is believed to have been run by Miljanić.

Reporters discovered that it operates in dozens of countries and is suspected of supplying Europe with tons of cocaine from South America.

The group is known for dismembering rivals with chainsaws, assassinating prominent government officials, and collaborating with spy organizations.

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