Tuesday, January 30, 2024

PPP Fraud Investigation Finds Cook County Workers Ripped Off $1.2 Million from Pandemic Relief Program; Miami-Area Developer Eric Sheppard Convicted of Pandemic Loan Fraud, Faces Prison, and other C-Virus related stories

Sun-Times file
PPP fraud investigation finds Cook County workers ripped off $1.2 million from pandemic relief program:
Cook County employees are suspected of stealing more than $1.2 million from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program created in 2020 to bail out struggling businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, interim Cook County Inspector General Steven Cyranoski released a report for the fourth quarter of 2023 detailing $300,000 of PPP fraud involving seven health department employees and a facilities management worker.
In prior quarterly reports since July 2022, Cyranoski has said he suspected at least 31 other county workers had committed PPP fraud. The fraud documented in all of his reports adds up to more than $1.2 million.
In his latest report, Cyranoski said a county health worker got four loans totaling about $79,000 after she falsely told the Small Business Administration she ran interior-design and hair-braiding businesses.
The loans were forgiven, meaning they didn’t have to be repaid. The woman resigned the night before she was supposed to meet with the inspector general’s office.
Cyranoski also said a facilities management worker applied for a PPP loan for a masonry contracting business, which he really did operate on the side. The problem was that he was ineligible to receive his $26,000 loan. The man lied that his company took in gross receipts of $80,000 in 2020 when he really got only $5,000, the inspector general’s report said. --->READ MORE HERE
Dominic James
Miami-area developer Eric Sheppard convicted of pandemic loan fraud, faces prison:
Miami-area developer Eric Sheppard convicted of pandemic loan fraud, faces prison A notable South Florida developer was convicted in federal court Friday of falsifying paperwork and forging signatures on applications to obtain about $900,000 in government-guaranteed loans under an emergency COVID-19 relief plan for struggling businesses during the pandemic.
The jury’s verdict against Eric Sheppard, perhaps best known for renovating the historic Carillon hotel on Miami Beach, was decidedly split. The 12-person Miami federal jury found Sheppard guilty on four out of nine wire fraud charges but acquitted him of the other five. The panel also found him guilty of two aggravated identity theft charges but acquitted him of the other three.
Sheppard, 53, who grew up on Miami Beach and has raised his family in Bal Harbour, faces several years in prison at his sentencing in April.
His defense attorney, Jayne Weintraub, called the outcome “devastating.”
“The jury compromised, giving up their true beliefs, unfairly hurting an innocent man and his family,” Weintraub told the Miami Herald. “The verdict was legally inconsistent.
”The jury began deliberations Thursday afternoon following a three-week trial and a long holiday break. Within an hour, the jurors told U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom that they could not reach unanimous verdicts on 12 of the 14 charges. But the judge gave them a so-called Allen charge, instructions aimed at urging a deadlocked panel to reach a conclusion. The jurors returned Friday afternoon with their verdicts.
During trial and at closing arguments Thursday, the jury was presented with two portraits of the defendant: Prosecutors depicted Sheppard as a conniving developer who cheated the system to line his pockets, but his defense team portrayed him as a legitimate businessman who needed the government’s help to pay his employees during a public health crisis. --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

Taneytown man sentenced to five years for fraudulent COVID-related unemployment claims

Assisted living owner sentenced in $1 million COVID-19 relief fraud case

USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

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