Trucking company

South Florida political campaign consultant charged with defrauding Covid-19 relief program | USAO-SDFL

Miami, Florida – Federal prosecutors have charged Omar Smith, 42, a resident of Royal Palm Beach, Fla., with lying on a coronavirus relief loan application and fraudulently obtaining more than two hundred thousand dollars intended to help small businesses financially survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to information filed today in Federal District Court in Fort Lauderdale, in June 2020, Smith applied for a $212,500 repayable loan from the federally guaranteed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) on behalf of A Star For I, Inc., a Florida company which he owned. It is alleged that to justify the loan amount requested, Smith claimed in the online loan application and using fraudulent payroll tax forms, that his business employed 30 people and spent an average of $85,000. per month in pay. In fact, A Star For I, Inc had no employees and no payroll charges. A Utah bank approved A Star For I, Inc.’s PPP loan application based on the lies and wired $212,500 to the company’s Florida bank account, according to reports.

Once the money reached the bank account in July 2020, Smith spent the following months creating a paper trail to make it appear that A Star For I, Inc. actually had employees and was spending the money from the PPP for legitimate and approved expenses, it is alleged. Reportedly, Smith issued checks from the company’s bank account to others who had little or no work for A Star For I, Inc.

The information accuses Smith of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

Smith has worked on political campaigns in South Florida.

Juan Antonio Gonzalez, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Miami, announced the charges.

The FBI Miami investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Kaplan is suing him.

The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) is a federal law designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who have suffered financially from the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the sources of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of hundreds of billions of dollars in small business forgivable loans to maintain jobs and certain other expenses through the Check Protection Program. payroll (PPP).

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information about the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or via NCDF’s online complaint form at: https://www. .justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

Information is only an allegation and an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.

Court documents and related information can be found on the District Court for the Southern District of Florida website at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.govunder file number 22-cr-80074.

###