New York woman convicted of $9.2 million COVID-19 relief fraud

A New York City woman was sentenced today to 45 months in prison for her role in submitting fraudulent loan applications to secure more than $9.2 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans ( PPP) guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).

Sherry Joseph, 34, of New York, New York, pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Florida to conspiracy to commit wire fraud on November 10, 2022. According to court documents, Joseph recruited several people to seek fraudulent PPP loans in exchange for getting kickbacks from their PPP loan proceeds. Joseph used aliases to send his recruits’ information to co-conspirators, who used the information to prepare fraudulent PPP loan applications that included forged bank statements and payroll tax forms and falsely depicted the number of employees of the borrowing entities and the amount of the monthly payroll. Joseph engaged in the scheme while on bail for separate federal offenses related to fraud in the District of New Jersey.

In addition to her prison sentence, Joseph was ordered to serve three years of probation and to pay $1,612,837.78 in restitution and $55,000 in forfeiture.

A total of 30 people have been charged for their participation in the program in the Southern District of Florida, the Northern District of Ohio and the Middle District of North Carolina. All 30 defendants were convicted.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; US Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida; Special Agent in Charge Matthew D. Line of the Miami Field Office for IRS Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI); and Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite of the Office of the Small Business Administration Inspector General (SBA-OIG), Eastern Region, made the announcement.The IRS-CI and SBA-OIG investigated the matter.
Trial Attorney Philip Trout of the Criminal Divisions 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 mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with agencies across government to intensify enforcement efforts. and prevention of 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 by augmenting and integrating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and by sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the departments’ response to the pandemic, please visit