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South Florida Federal Jury Convicts Woman of COVID-19 Relief Fraud
A federal jury in Fort Lauderdale found a 32-year-old Florida woman guilty of conspiracy and wire fraud for fraudulently obtaining a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Keyaira Bostic, of Pembroke Pines, obtained a PPP loan of $84,515 for her company, I Am Liquid Inc., based on false information about the company’s number of employees and average payroll, and based on false supporting tax and bank documents. Bostic also paid more than $21,000 to an alleged co-conspirator, James Stote, as a kickback for his assistance in preparing and submitting the fraudulent loan application. The evidence also showed that Bostic, in exchange for kickbacks, referred other co-conspirators to the scheme on whose behalf Stote submitted fraudulent PPP loan applications. Those loan applicants sought more than $3.3 million in fraudulent PPP loans and obtained nearly $2 million in PPP loan proceeds.
Bostic was convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud. She was found not guilty of bank fraud. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 3, 2022, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count of conviction. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Stote was charged by information on Nov. 10 with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. His case remains pending.
U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez of the Southern District of Florida; Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Special Agent in Charge Michael J. De Palma of the IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Miami Field Office; Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite of the SBA’s Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG) Eastern Region made the announcement.
The IRS-CI, FBI, and SBA-OIG investigated the cases.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Turken of the Southern District of Florida and Trial Attorney Philip Trout of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Grosnoff is handling asset forfeiture.
Criminal complaints, informations, and indictments contain mere allegations and defendants are innocent unless and until found guilty in a court of law.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 20-cr-60139.
[Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida, Miami, 30No21]
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