Miami, Florida – A federal jury in Fort Lauderdale has found a 32-year-old Florida woman guilty of conspiracy and wire transfer fraud for fraudulently obtaining a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
According to court documents and evidence presented at the trial, Keyaira Bostic, of Pembroke Pines, obtained a $84,515 PPP loan for her company, I Am Liquid Inc., based on false information about the number of employees of the company. and the average payroll, and based on false supporting tax and bank documents. Bostic also paid more than $21,000 to an alleged co-conspirator, James Stote, as a bribe for his help preparing and filing the fraudulent loan application. Evidence also showed that, in exchange for kickbacks, Bostic referred other co-conspirators to the scheme on behalf of Stote making fraudulent PPP loan applications. Those loan applicants sought more than $3.3 million in fraudulent PPP loans and obtained nearly $2 million in PPP loans.
Bostic was convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud and three counts of wire fraud. She was found not guilty of bank fraud. She is expected to be sentenced on February 3, 2022 and will receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each conviction. A federal district court judge will determine an eventual penalty after considering U.S. sentencing guidelines and other legal factors.
Stote was charged by information on Nov. 10 with wire transfer fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. His case remains pending.
US Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez of the Southern District of Florida; Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. from the Criminal Division of the Ministry of Justice; Special Agent Michael J. De Palma of the IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Miami Field Office; Special Agent George L. Piro of the Miami FBI Office; and Special Representative Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite of the SBA’s Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG) Eastern Region made the announcement.
The IRS-CI, FBI and SBA-OIG have investigated the cases.
Assistant US Attorney David Turks of the Southern District of Florida and trial attorney Philip Trout of the Fraud Division of the Criminal Division are pursuing the case. Assistant US Attorney Nicole Grosnoff handles asset forfeiture.
Criminal charges, information and charges are allegations only and defendants are innocent unless and until found guilty in a court of law.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to pool the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with government agencies to strengthen efforts to fight and prevent pandemic fraud. The Task Force is strengthening efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assist agencies charged with managing emergency programs to prevent fraud, including by expanding and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, resources and identifying techniques to detect fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and leveraging information and insights gained from past enforcement efforts. To learn more about the department’s response to the pandemic, visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud with COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or using the NCDF web complaint form at https: //www. justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
Related court documents and 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.gov, under case number 20-cr-60139 .