Miami, Florida – Reversing a federal magistrate judge’s ruling, United States District Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr. has ordered that Kenny Terlent, 19, will remain in a federal detention center without bond pending his trial on charges of illegally possessing a machine gun, identity theft, and Covid-19 benefit related fraud.
According to the indictment and criminal complaint affidavit filed in his case, Terlent and other members of the 77th Street gang exploited programs that offered unemployment compensation benefits to people suffering Covid-19-related job loss. As part of their scheme, Terlent and his co-conspirators obtained stolen identities (names, social security numbers, dates of birth and other personal sensitive information) from the dark web and other sources, says the affidavit. With the stolen identities, Terlent and his co-conspirators filed for unemployment compensation benefits meant for individuals who had lost jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic, then used bank cards in other people’s names to collect the money and transfer it to bank accounts that they controlled, it is alleged.
On June 24, law enforcement officers executed a federal search warrant at Terlent’s residence. According to the affidavit, Terlent ran from officers who approached him outside and threw his cellular telephone into a nearby lake. Law enforcement recovered the phone, searched it pursuant to a warrant, and found that it contained stolen identity information. Inside Terlent’s home, in addition to other evidence of fraud, officers found a stolen Glock 19 handgun with an auto-sear device affixed to it, says the affidavit. When installed on a handgun, an auto-sear, colloquially called a “switch,” allows a handgun to expel more than one bullet by a single pull of the trigger, turning the weapon into a fully automatic machine gun. Terlent does not have a permit to possess a machine gun, according to the charges.
Law enforcement officers arrested Terlent, and a South Florida federal grand jury returned an indictment charging him with possessing 15 or more unauthorized access devices, aggravated identity theft, and the illegal possession of a machine gun.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Brian Swain, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Robert Cekada, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Office, announced the charges.
A multi-agency gang task force consisting of the Miami Divisions of USSS, FBI, and ATF, as well as the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) and City of Miami Police Department (MPD) investigated the matter.
AUSA Frederic “Fritz” Shadley is prosecuting this case.
This case stems from Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. In 2017, PSN was reinvigorated as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
Anyone with information related to possible gun crimes is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.
This case also stems from the Department of Justice’s efforts to combat Covid-19 fraud. On May 17, 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, among other methods, 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 at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
Indictments and criminal complaints are mere allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 21-cr-20380.