Chilivis Grubman attorneys continue to track federal enforcement actions related to COVID-19 relief programs, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Notably, the government has more time to bring civil and/or criminal enforcement actions because President Biden signed two bills into law that extend to ten years the statute of limitations for civil and criminal enforcement actions for fraud on the PPP and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). Besides more time to bring civil and/or criminal enforcement actions, the federal government has warned the public it will act against any individual and business that defraud the government, including NFL players, Reality TV stars, and as seen recently, law enforcement officers who allegedly defraud the government.
In a recent press release, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced federal criminal charges against 17 Broward Sheriff’s Office employees, including jailers and police officers, for allegedly participating in independent schemes to defraud the federal government. According to the press release, the investigation began in November 2021 when the Broward Sheriff’s Office was made aware of PPP fraud “as an emerging trend within public service agencies.” The schemes of the recently charged defendants involved alleged fraudulent applications for the PPP and the EIDL program.
Many defendants are accused of falsifying IRS tax forms and providing false information on their applications. Many were charged with one or more counts of wire fraud and/or conspiracy to commit wire fraud. As noted in the press release, a convicted defendant faces up to 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and up to 5 years in prison for each count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. A federal judge will determine sentencing after consideration of the federal sentencing guidelines and other factors.
While the media attention related to COVID-19 fraud has drastically reduced, the government continues investigating, pursuing, and prosecuting individuals who defraud COVID-19 relief programs. “While these programs have ended, our commitment to seeking out those who defrauded them has not,” according to Jeffrey B. Veltri, Special Agent in Charge (FBI Miami). Michael C. Galdo, DOJ Director of COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement, reiterated the government’s position: “Department prosecutors around the country, including the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Strike Forces, will pursue these SBA pandemic fraud cases for the full 10 years of the extended statute of limitations.”
The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman represent clients of all types and sizes in connection with white-collar criminal investigations, False Claims Act investigations, and related commercial litigation. If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today.