Former Miami-Dade County Employee Sentenced to Federal Prison for COVID-19 Relief Fraud | USAO-SDFL

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Miami, Florida – Today, Miami-Dade County resident Willie Curry, 58, was sentenced to six months in federal prison by U.S. Senior District Judge James Lawrence King after pleading guilty wire fraud as part of Curry’s fraudulent application to the US Small Business Administration (SBA) for a low-interest COVID-19 relief loan. In determining the sentence, Senior Judge King took Curry’s seven years of honorable service in the United States into consideration.

Curry was a longtime Miami-Dade County employee. In 2019 and 2020, the county employed Curry full-time as a network manager. As a county employee, Curry suffered no loss of pay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, on June 24, 2020, Curry submitted to the SBA an application for an Economic Disaster Loan (EIDL) stating that he was the 100% owner of a sole proprietorship operating as “Will Curry Computers”. “. In this application, Curry falsely and fraudulently certified that Will Curry Computers was established on January 1, 2015, and that in the twelve month period prior to January 31, 2020, Will Curry Computers had gross revenues of approximately 755,416 $, a cost of goods sold of approximately $ 170,664 and 10 employees. In fact, Curry created Will Curry Computers in 2020, he had minimal gross income and cost of goods sold in the twelve month period leading up to January 31, 2020, and he had no employees.

Based on the defendant’s materially false and fraudulent EIDL claim, the SBA paid an advance of $ 10,000 and then $ 150,000 in loan proceeds to Curry’s listed financial institution for the benefit of Curry. The financial institution instead returned the money to the SBA, and after Curry was informed, he made extensive contact with the SBA in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to get the money sent to an account he maintained. at another financial institution. Ultimately, his fraudulent efforts were discovered by law enforcement.

The total sentence imposed by Senior Judge King was six months in jail, followed by one year of supervised release, with the first six months of supervised release to be served at home. A special assessment of $ 100.00 was also imposed.

Juan Antonio Gonzalez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami, and Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite, Special Agent in Charge, Small Business Administration, Eastern Region Investigations Division (SBA-OIG) announced the award.

The FBI Miami Area Corruption Task Force, which includes officers from the Miami-Dade Police Department Professional Compliance Office Task Force, Criminal Conspiracy Section and SBA-OIG, investigated this case. The Miami-Dade County Inspector General’s office and the United States Secret Service provided invaluable assistance. US Assistant Prosecutor Edward N. Stamm continued this case.

In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (“CARES”) was promulgated. It was designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans suffering from the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other relief sources, the CARES Act authorized and funded the SBA to provide Economic Disaster Lending (“EIDL”) to eligible small businesses, including sole proprietorships and independent contractors, experiencing significant financial disruption by due to the COVID-19 pandemic. to enable them to meet financial obligations and operating expenses that might otherwise have been paid had the disaster not occurred. EIDL applications were submitted directly to the SBA through the SBA online application website, and applications were processed and loans funded for eligible applicants directly by the SBA.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General created the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Working Group to mobilize the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with government agencies to strengthen efforts to combat and prevent the pandemic fraud. The Working Group strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable national and international criminal actors and assists agencies responsible for administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by scaling up and integrating mechanisms coordination, identifying resources and techniques for uncovering fraudulent actors and their programs, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous 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 Enforcement (NCDF) hotline at 866-720 -5721 or via the NCDF web complaint form at: https: // www. .justice.gov / disaster-fraud / ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

Court documents and related information are available on the South Florida District Court website at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or to http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under file number 21-cr-20415.

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