Two Florida residents have been charged with conspiracy and making false statements to a financial institution. Julio Lugo, 44, and Rosenide Venant, 37, are accused of fraudulently applying and obtaining funds earmarked for COVID-19 economic relief. (Seems to be all the rage these days.)
In addition to allegedly making false statements to a financial institution, Lugo has been charged with an illegal monetary transaction relating to the illegal use of coronavirus relief funds to pay off a note on a luxury car purchased during the conspiracy. (So, people are dying left and right from this awful virus, the government doles out cash for relief, and this duo uses the money to buy a new car. Nice.)
Beginning around March 2020, Lugo and Venant conspired to defraud the Small Business Administration (SBA) out of millions of dollars in coronavirus relief funds. Lugo and Venant used their home IP-address to submit at least 70 false and fraudulent loan applications seeking funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs. (As if that IP address couldn’t be tracked directly back to them.)
The fraudulent loan applications requested more than $5.8 million for shell companies established by Lugo, Venant, and their relatives. (The whole family was in on this scheme.)
Once the emergency loans were secured, the conspirators used the funds to pay off a luxury vehicle, spending more than $62,000 at casinos, and for other personal purposes. (They went on a full-blown spending spree, all on the average taxpayer’s dime.) Additionally, the conspirators withdrew at least $320,000 in cash.
Lugo publicized the misuse of the SBA funds in a Facebook video featuring a hotel room littered with $100 bills and at least $5,000 in merchandise from Louis Vuitton. (They made the prosecutor’s job easy.) If convicted, Lugo faces a maximum penalty of 45 years in federal prison. Venant faces up to 35 years’ imprisonment.
Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Davenport Couple Charged With $5.8 Million COVID Relief Fraud,” dated April 2, 2021.
Tampa, Florida – Acting United States Attorney Karin Hoppmann announces the filing of a criminal complaint charging Julio Lugo (44) and Rosenide Venant (37), both of Davenport, with conspiracy and making false statements to a financial institution.
Lugo has also been charged with an illegal monetary transaction relating to the illegal use of coronavirus relief funds to pay off a note on a luxury car purchased during the conspiracy. If convicted, Lugo faces a maximum penalty of 45 years in federal prison; Venant faces up to 35 years’ imprisonment.