Florida Felon Admits Role in Multi-Million Dollar Health Care Kickback Scheme After Pleading Guilty to COVID-19 Fraud and Unlawfully Possessing Firearms
MIAMI – On Jan. 5, a former Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) Department of Detention lieutenant was charged with two counts of wire fraud for allegedly fraudulently obtaining a total of $167,750 in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.
On April 1, 2021, Ernest Bernard Gonder Jr., 41, of Port St. Lucie, Florida, allegedly submitted a false and fraudulent PPP loan application misrepresenting EBG Properties LLC’s average monthly payroll and number of employees, according to the allegations in the information. In support of this application, Gonder also allegedly submitted multiple fraudulent IRS Forms 941. As a result of this false and fraudulent application, a New Jersey-based Small Business Administration (SBA)-approved PPP lender disbursed $106,540 to a bank account controlled by Gonder in the name of EBG Properties.
The information also alleges that on April 6, 2021, Gonder submitted a second false and fraudulent PPP loan application misrepresenting The Impact Center of Broward County Inc’s average monthly payroll and number of employees. In support of this application, Gonder also allegedly submitted multiple fraudulent IRS Forms 941. As a result of this false and fraudulent application, the New Jersey-based SBA-approved PPP lender disbursed $61,210 to a bank account controlled by Gonder in the name of The Impact Center of Broward County.
The information further alleges that Gonder used the proceeds of the scheme to enrich himself. Gonder also sought and received forgiveness of the two PPP loans he received, as alleged in the information.
On Jan. 30, Gonder made his initial appearance in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. If convicted, Gonder faces up to 20 years in prison on each count.
U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of 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-CFPB), and Sheriff Gregory Tony of the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), made the announcement.
FBI Miami, FRB-CFPB Office of Inspector General and BSO investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Anton is prosecuting it. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Klco is handling asset forfeiture.
These charges stem from the Department of Justice’s ongoing initiative to prosecute fraud in connection with COVID-19 pandemic relief programs that offered assistance under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, as well as other crimes relating to the pandemic.
An information contains mere allegations and defendants are presumed innocent unless and 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 at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 24-cr-60003.
Public Affairs Unit
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida