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Press Release

Former Broward Deputy Sheriff Sentenced to Federal Prison for COVID-19 Relief Fraud

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

MIAMI – Stephanie Diane Smith, 54, of Sunrise, Florida, was sentenced yesterday to 7 months in prison for participating in a COVID-19 relief fraud scheme in which she received two loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).  In March 2024, a federal jury in Fort Lauderdale found Smith guilty of two counts of wire fraud in connection with the scheme.

Smith was employed as a deputy sheriff with the Broward Sheriff’s Office when she applied for the PPP loans in 2021.  As established at trial, the PPP loans were based upon materially false gross income information for two sole proprietorship businesses, Children 1st Basketball Training and Agape Smith Vending.  The fruits of this scheme resulted in Smith’s unlawful receipt of $31,108.  

U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn imposed the sentence following a hearing.  The sentence includes a 3-year term of supervised release following imprisonment, restitution in the amount of $31,108, a $2,000 fine, and forfeiture.

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 of the Eastern Region, Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (FRB-OIG); and Sheriff Gregory Tony of the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) made the announcement.

FBI Miami, FRB-OIG, and BSO investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Snider and Trevor Jones prosecuted the case.  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 May 30, 2024

Disaster Fraud