Criminal Indictment For PPP Fraud Has Ties To South Florida
Well over a year after the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was established to help businesses get through COVID-19 lockdowns, criminal charges continue to pile up against individuals who fraudulently accessed loan funds. South Florida’s NBC affiliate News Channel 6 covered a recent story regarding an indictment against the daughter of a candidate for Broward County Commissioner. The woman was charged with PPP fraud after receiving a $300,000 loan to pay employees at her consulting firm; the arrest for PPP fraud stems from the fact that these workers did not exist.
Tough times often lead individuals to exercise poor judgment, but officials will aggressively pursue those that make money off the government through fraudulent schemes. The penalties for fraud can be harsh if you are convicted, but keep in mind that there may be defenses and strategies for fighting the charges. A Florida criminal defense lawyer can explain in more detail, though applying Florida law to the facts of the recent case may help you understand.
Overview of PPP Fraud Charges
PPP was established under the CARES Act to provide a revenue stream for businesses struggling with COVID-related lockdowns, illness, and employee shortages. The funds were intended as forgivable loans to help with short-term expenses, but also to incentivize companies to keep employees on the payroll. The government started distributing PPP funds in April 2020, but there are strict rules for expenditures by recipients.
The recent indictment for the South Florida woman facing fraud charges includes allegations that she:
- Made false statements and misrepresentations on her PPP loan application;
- Created fraudulent payroll tax forms to create 18 “ghost” employees at her consulting firm;
- Committed wire fraud by submitting application materials online;
- Falsified documents to create the impression that her consulting firm was making legitimate expenditures of PPP funds;
- Conspired with individuals to assist with the PPP fraud and paid them for their efforts; and
- Retained PPP funds for herself in violation of regulations on appropriate expenditures.
Legal Representation is Critical for Defending Fraud Charges
The indictment in the recent Broward County PPP fraud case contains some damaging allegations, but keep in mind that officials only need probable cause to make an arrest or charge someone with a crime. A much higher standard – proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt – is necessary for the prosecution to convict. Therefore, solid legal counsel is critical. With help from a lawyer, you can take advantage of numerous tactics, such as:
- Exposing weaknesses in the prosecutor’s evidence and witnesses;
- Proposing a plea agreement or other arrangement for resolving the charges;
- Developing strategies to defend fraud, including mistake, misunderstanding, or lack of intent; and
- Fighting the charges in court at a trial.
Our Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys Will Fight for Your Rights
If you are facing charges for PPP fraud or any other fraudulent scheme, retaining an experienced lawyer is a priority. Our team at Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. is prepared to aggressively defend your interests, so please contact our Jupiter, FL offices today to schedule a consultation.