A New York woman was sentenced today to 45 months in prison for her role in the submission of fraudulent loan applications seeking more than $9.2 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Sherry Joseph, 34, of New York, New York, pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Florida to conspiracy to commit wire fraud on Nov. 10, 2022. According to court documents, Joseph recruited multiple individuals to apply for fraudulent PPP loans in exchange for kickbacks from their PPP loan proceeds. Joseph used aliases to send the information of her recruits to co-conspirators, who used this information to prepare fraudulent PPP loan applications that included falsified bank statements and payroll tax forms and falsely represented the borrowing entities’ number of employees and amount of monthly payroll. Joseph engaged in the scheme while on pretrial release for separate federal fraud-related offenses in the District of New Jersey.
In addition to her prison sentence, Joseph was ordered to serve three years of supervised released and pay $1,612,837.78 in restitution and $55,000 in forfeiture.
In total, 30 people have been charged for their participation in this scheme in the Southern District of Florida, Northern District of Ohio, and Middle District of North Carolina. All 30 of those defendants have been convicted.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida; Special Agent in Charge Matthew D. Line of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite of the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG), Eastern Region made the announcement.
The IRS-CI and SBA-OIG investigated the case.
Trial Attorney Philip Trout of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kiran Bhat for the Southern District of Florida prosecuted the case.
In May 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
The Fraud Section leads the Criminal Division’s prosecution of fraud schemes that exploit the PPP. Since the inception of the CARES Act, the Fraud Section has prosecuted over 200 defendants in more than 130 criminal cases and has seized over $78 million in cash proceeds derived from fraudulently obtained PPP funds, as well as numerous real estate properties and luxury items purchased with such proceeds. More information can be found at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/ppp-fraud.