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Press Release

Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy convicted at trial of COVID-19 relief fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida

MIAMI – On March 5, a federal jury in Fort Lauderdale convicted a Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) deputy of two counts of wire fraud for her COVID-19 relief fraud scheme.

In 2021, Stephanie Diane Smith, 53, of Sunrise, Florida, applied for and received two PPP loans for herself as a sole proprietor doing business as Children 1st Basketball Training and Agape Smith Vending, respectively, based upon materially false information about each business’s total amount of gross income for the year 2019, including a falsified IRS tax form submitted with each application. Smith also sought and received forgiveness of both fraudulently obtained PPP loans, which totaled over $31,000 in principal and interest. During the period of the scheme, Smith was employed as a deputy sheriff in BSO’s Department of Law Enforcement.

The sentencing is scheduled for May 29 before U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn.  Smith faces up to 20 years in prison for each wire fraud conviction. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Markenzy Lapointe; Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri, FBI, Miami Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Brian Tucker, Eastern Region, Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony of BSO made the announcement.

FBI Miami, FRB-OIG and BSO investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Snider and Trevor Jones are prosecuting it. Assistant U.S. Attorney Darren Grove is handling asset forfeiture.

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

On September 15, 2022, the Attorney General selected the Southern District of Florida’s U.S. Attorney’s Office to head one of three national COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force Teams. The Department of Justice established the Strike Force to enhance existing efforts to combat and prevent COVID-19 related financial fraud.  The Strike Force combines law enforcement and prosecutorial resources and focuses on large-scale, multistate pandemic relief fraud perpetrated by criminal organizations and transnational actors, as well as those who committed multiple instances of pandemic relief fraud. The Strike Force uses prosecutor-led and data analyst-driven teams to identify and bring to justice those who stole pandemic relief funds. Additional information regarding the Strike Force may be found at

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

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or at, under case number 23-cr-60203.



Public Affairs Unit

U.S. Attorney’s Office

Southern District of Florida

Updated March 6, 2024

Disaster Fraud