By Sharon Aron Baron
Federal criminal charges were announced today against 17 Broward Sheriff’s Office employees in connection with alleged fraud schemes targeting COVID-19 pandemic relief programs.
In collaboration with federal and local law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Attorney’s Office detailed the accusations as part of an ongoing Department of Justice initiative to combat such fraud.
The charges span 17 cases in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Allegedly, these individuals fraudulently applied for loans and other assistance under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, including the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, designed to help those affected economically by the pandemic.
The total amount of unlawfully obtained assistance stands at $495,171.
According to a statement from Sheriff Gregory Tony, the news about federal charges against several Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) employees arose from an internal BSO probe.
He added that in 2021, there were concerns about potential Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud in public service sectors.
Acting on an insider lead, the BSO found numerous employees had applied for these loans. Ensuring the investigation’s integrity, the BSO worked closely with various federal bodies.
“For five years, I’ve maintained an organization committed to transparency and accountability. I will continue to expect integrity and commitment to excellence from every BSO employee,” Sheriff Tony stated.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office employed all charged defendants at the time of the alleged frauds. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, alongside agencies such as the FBI and the Office of Inspector General for the Board of the Governors of the Federal Reserve System, has been investigating any BSO employees’ potential violations related to the CARES Act relief programs.
The defendants are:
- Stephanie Diane Smith, 53, was charged with wire fraud on Oct. 11.
- Katrina Brown, 46, was charged with three counts of wire fraud on Sept. 14.
- Alexandra Acosta, 37, was charged with one count of wire fraud on Sept. 14.
- La’Keitha Victoria Lawhorn, 41, was charged with three counts of wire fraud on Sept. 14.
- Jewell Farrell Johnson, 46, was charged with two counts of wire fraud on Sept. 14.
- Carolyn Denise Wade, 48, was charged with one count of wire fraud on Sept. 14.
- Rorie Brown, 42, was charged with two counts of wire fraud on Sept. 14.
- Alexis Monique Greene, 47, was charged with two counts of wire fraud on Sept. 28.
- Ritchie Noah Dubuisson, 25, was charged with one count of wire fraud on Sept. 28.
- Keshondra Tameisha Davis, 37, was charged with one count of wire fraud on Sept. 28.
- Allen Dorvil, 33, was charged with one count of wire fraud on Sept. 28.
- Jean Pierre-Toussant, 35, was charged with one count of wire fraud on Oct. 5.
- Ancy Morancy, 33, was charged with one count of wire fraud on Oct. 5.
- Marcus Errol Powell, 37, was charged with one count of wire fraud on Oct. 5.
- Derrick J. Nesbitt, 46, was charged with two counts of wire fraud on Oct. 5.
- Keith Dunkley, 46, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud on Oct. 6.
- George Anthony III, 50, was charged with two counts of wire fraud on Sept. 14.
If convicted, the maximum sentence for wire fraud is 20 years, while conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum of 5 years. A federal district court judge would determine sentencing after reviewing the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.
In response to the pandemic, the Department of Justice has escalated efforts to combat and prevent COVID-19-related fraud, including establishing the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force in May 2021.
The Southern District of Florida’s U.S. Attorney’s Office was chosen in September 2022 to lead one of three national COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force Teams.
- Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and Tamarac Talk, Coral Springs Talk, and Parkland Talk. Tamarac Talk was created in 2011 to provide News for the residents of Tamarac and is the #1 News Source for Residents.
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