City of Miami police officer charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine and extortion
MIAMI – On Oct. 27, a former corrections sergeant with the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department (MDCRD), was sentenced to 18 months in prison for COVID-19 relief fraud, followed by three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $432,051 in restitution.
Arashio Harris, 49, of Miami-Dade County, Florida, had previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with his fraudulent applications for two Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, two Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and an EIDL advance.
Harris, along with being a MDCRD sergeant at the time of the crimes, was the owner and president of The Good Family Property Solutions Inc. (“Good Family”) and Flying Lions LLC (“Flying Lions”). Harris, with the help of an associate, submitted to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) a false and fraudulent EIDL application in the name of Good Family, seeking both an EIDL and an EIDL advance. As a result of this fraudulent application, Good Family obtained from the SBA a $9,000 EIDL advance that did not need to be repaid and $14,500 in EIDL loan proceeds. Harris also submitted a false and fraudulent EIDL application to the SBA for Flying Lions grossly overstating the company’s gross revenues and number of employees, allowing him to fraudulently obtain $150,000 in EIDL proceeds from the SBA.
Harris continued his fraud scheme by obtaining two PPP loans in the name of Good Family. In July 2020, Harris submitted a PPP loan application grossly overstating Good Family’s payroll. In support of this fraudulent application, Harris submitted several false and fabricated 2019 IRS documents claiming that Good Family had a total income of over $1,000,000 and had paid wages and salaries that year of over $768,000. These documents included false IRS Form W-2s and Good Family payroll records for these supposed employees. As a result of this false and fraudulent application, Harris obtained a $129,275 PPP loan from an SBA-approved PPP lender.
In February 2021, Harris began the process of seeking a Second Draw PPP loan for Good Family to take advantage of the additional PPP relief being offered to businesses that had suffered revenue losses in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Again, the Second Draw application relied on the fraudulent income and payroll numbers used to obtain the first PPP loan, and the application package included fraudulent 2019 IRS forms and fabricated Good Family payroll records for those supposed employees. As a result of this Second Draw application, Good Family obtained a Second Draw PPP loan of $129,276 from a different SBA-approved PPP lender.
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 Matthew D. Line of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Miami Field Office; SBA OIG’s Eastern Region Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite, U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General (SBA OIG), Investigations Division’s Eastern Region, and Inspector General Felix Jimenez of the Miami-Dade County Office of Inspector General (MDC OIG), announced the sentence imposed by Chief U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga.
U.S. Attorney Lapointe commended the investigative efforts of FBI’s Miami Area Corruption Task Force, which includes task force officers from MDC OIG, working in conjunction with IRS-CI and SBA OIG, in the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward N. Stamm prosecuted the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney G. Raemy Charest-Turken handled asset forfeiture.
In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act was enacted. It was designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other sources of relief, the CARES Act authorized and provided funding to the SBA to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loans (“EIDLs”) to eligible small businesses, including sole proprietorships and independent contractors, experiencing substantial financial disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic to allow them to meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could otherwise have been met had the disaster not occurred. EIDL applications were submitted directly to the SBA via the SBA’s on-line application website, and the applications were processed and the loans funded for qualifying applicants directly by the SBA.
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.
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. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please click here.
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.
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 23-cr-20295.
Public Affairs Unit
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida