Miami Church Pastor Sentenced to 48 Months in Federal Prison for Defrauding Paycheck Protection Program
Miami, Florida – A U.S. federal district judge sentenced 52-year-old Sherri Lynn Smith to 51 months in prison, followed by four years of supervised release for stealing nearly $300,000 from two seniors by accessing their bank accounts while employed as their caretaker.
From 2016 to 2019, Smith worked as a caretaker for an elderly couple in Broward County. As part of her duties, Smith had access to the victims’ bank accounts to assist them with paying their monthly bills. Smith used her access to the victims’ finances to embezzle approximately $300,000 out of the victims’ accounts without their knowledge or consent. She accomplished this by writing and forging the victim’s signature on checks made payable to herself, her family members, and her creditors; initiating Zelle electronic money transfers from the victims’ accounts to her own bank account; and making electronic payments from the victims’ accounts to her and her husband’s numerous credit card accounts.
In addition to sentencing Smith to prison and supervised release terms, the judge entered a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $288,865.92 and ordered Smith to pay $168,895.92 in restitution. United District Judge Thomas P. Barber, of the Middle District of Florida, presided over this Southern District of Florida case.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Robert M. DeWitt, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami, made the announcement.
FBI Miami investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Diana M. Acosta prosecuted it. Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Stone is handling asset forfeiture.
Combatting elder abuse and financial fraud targeted at seniors is a key priority of the Department of Justice. The mission of the Department’s Elder Justice Initiative is to support and coordinate the Department’s enforcement and programmatic efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect and financial fraud and scams that target our nation’s seniors. To learn more visit https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice. The public is encouraged to report victimization and suspected fraud schemes by calling the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD 11 (1-833- 372-8311).
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 at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 21-cr-14023.
Public Affairs Unit
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida