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17 Florida Sheriff’s Deputies Accused Of Stealing About $500,000 In Pandemic Relief Funds

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Seventeen Florida sheriff’s deputies appeared in courtroom Thursday on expenses that they stole about half 1,000,000 {dollars} in pandemic reduction funds.

The Broward County deputies, who’re charged individually, are accused of a variety of crimes, in response to courtroom information. Most are charged with wire fraud, which carries a sentence of as much as 20 years in jail, although one deputy is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which has a most sentence of 5 years.

The eight regulation enforcement deputies and 9 detention deputies have been suspended, Sheriff Gregory Tony mentioned throughout a information convention. He mentioned his workplace goes by way of the authorized technique of firing them.

“On the finish of the day, they are going to be gone,” Tony mentioned.

The deputies collectively defrauded the Paycheck Safety Program and the Financial Damage Catastrophe Mortgage program out of about $500,000, mentioned Markenzy Lapointe, the U.S. legal professional for the southern district of Florida.

“Irrespective of the quantity, we won’t permit restricted federal tax {dollars}, which have been supposed to supply a lifeline to small companies as they struggled to remain afloat throughout the economically devastating pandemic lockdown, to be swindled by those that have been employed able of belief and forged apart their responsibility to uphold and abide by the regulation,” Lapointe mentioned.

Tony mentioned his workplace started investigating the company’s 5,600 workers in late 2021 after studying that pandemic reduction fraud was an rising development inside public service businesses and receiving a tip that a few of his workers may need participated in fraud. Broward Sheriff’s Workplace investigators discovered about 100 workers who had utilized for COVID-19 reduction loans and finally turned the investigation over to the U.S. legal professional’s workplace and the Federal Reserve Board.

“For 5 years, I’ve maintained a corporation dedicated to transparency and accountability,” Tony mentioned. “I’ll proceed to count on integrity and dedication to excellence from each BSO worker.”

Lapointe mentioned his workplace continues to research attainable fraud.

The Paycheck Safety Program entails billions of {dollars} in forgivable small-business loans for People struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cash have to be used to pay workers, mortgage curiosity, hire and utilities. It’s a part of the coronavirus reduction bundle that turned federal regulation in 2020. The Financial Damage Catastrophe Mortgage program is designed to supply financial reduction to small companies which can be experiencing a short lived lack of income.

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