Ex-Florida Lawmaker Admits COVID Relief Fund Fraud and Money Laundering
A former Florida State Representative pled guilty to wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements for lying to secure COVID-19 relief funds, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). The disgraced ex-lawmaker could face up to 35 years in prison. He served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2020 until his resignation in 2022, is alleged to have obtained COVID relief loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) by submitting fraudulent applications for fictitious businesses.
He allegedly sought $150,000 in loans he wasn’t entitled to and engaged in illegal monetary transactions after receiving the funds to conceal the origin of the funds, a classic case of money laundering. He expressed regret and took responsibility for his actions, acknowledging the harm caused to his constituents and supporters and repaid the SBA loan in full in 2021. Sentencing is scheduled for July 25, 2023, in Gainesville, Florida.
Covid relief funds, especially PPP Loan Fraud was rampant, and the government just now is starting to unearth the extent which they think is in the billions. In the haste to distribute funds, there was very little oversight and as a result the programs were ripe for fraudsters. Whistleblowers under the False Claims Act have been assisting in unearthing the fraud and in turn receiving whistleblowers rewards up to 30% of what the government recovers.