Miami real estate agent Daniela Rendon used PPP money to lease … – USA TODAY

A Miami real estate agent was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for fraudulently obtaining money from the government’s COVID19 relief programs, actions she said were, “motivated by insatiable greed.”
Daniela Rendon, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in April 2023 after the prosecution dropped six additional counts of wire fraud, two counts of money laundering and one count of aggravated identity theft.
According to the indictment, Rendon obtained more than $380,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans under her company names Rendon PA and Rendon Holdings.
She then used the money to lease a 2021 Bentley Bentayga, rent a luxury apartment on Biscayne Bay, receive cosmetic dermatology procedures and refinish her designer shoes. That Bentley model costs more than $3,000 a month to lease.
Rendon also will be under supervised release with special conditions for three years after her prison sentence and owes nearly $200,000 in restitution.
The indictment lays out how Rendon operated this scheme, which stretched from April 2020 to April 2022. Rendon and other “accomplices” submitted loan applications with false information and documentation about the number of employees at her company, monthly payroll and revenue. She then enrolled her friends, family members and herself as employees of Rendon PA to disperse the checks, according to the indictment.
Court documents show that Rendon went to great lengths to take ownership for her actions. She wrote a 30-page thesis demonstrating her research into the economic and social effects of the COVID19 pandemic. Part of the thesis was a plan to launch non-profit organizations to support those affected by disasters in the future.
In a statement to the court, she wrote: “Looking back, it becomes all too tempting to utter the words ‘everybody was doing it’ as a feeble attempt to rationalize my actions. I regretfully confess that I once foolishly believed that the victims of my crimes were merely the faceless entities of the U.S. Government.”
Both were used to support a request from her attorney Robert Mandell asking for a downgrade in her sentence. She received the shortest prison sentence recommended by sentencing guidelines.
Related:How County Inspector General tracked and caught three women in COVID relief fraud scheme
The Small Business Administration pandemic relief programs, including the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and the Paycheck Protection Program loans, were intended to help businesses cover expenses during the COVID19 lockdowns. If businesses spent a certain amount on payroll, the interest and principal of the loan would be entirely forgiven. The PPP and EIDL programs were a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act passed by Congress in 2020 in order to provide emergency financial assistance when lockdowns went into effect.
But government oversight for the landmark programs proved difficult, and many fraudulent actors took advantage of the system.
According to a watchdog report released in June 2023 by the Office of the Inspector General for the SBA, 17% of the $1.2 trillion were stolen through fraud schemes. The estimated fraud breakdown is $136 billion from EIDL programs and $64 billion through PPP loans.
“The pandemic presented a whole-of-government challenge,” Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware said in the report. “Fraudsters found vulnerabilities and coordinated schemes to bypass controls and gain easy access to funds meant for eligible small businesses and entrepreneurs adversely affected by the economic crisis.”
In March 2023, President Joe Biden pledged $1.6 billion to help law enforcement track down people who took advantage of pandemic relief programs, including unemployment insurance.


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