Crime

Jailhouse COVID Exposure Almost Kept Alleged Miami PPP Scammer Behind Bars

Valesky Barosy was freed on bail January 6, pending a federal trial for wire fraud.
Valesky Barosy — a 27-year-old Fort Lauderdale man accused of fraudulently receiving $2.1 million from the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to buy a new Lamborghini Huracán EVO, designer clothing, and Rolexes — has been released from jail to await trial.

After being accused of profiting off the pandemic, it was a possible jailhouse exposure to COVID-19 in the days leading to his release that nearly cost Barosy an extra two weeks behind bars — a development his attorneys argued in court was outside his client's control and should not have affected Barosy's release after posting his $200,000 bond. A federal court judge for the Southern District of Florida ultimately agreed.

"Even though we're still fighting our way through the global pandemic, no individual should spend a minute or day longer [in jail]," David Cannady, one of Barosy's attorneys, tells New Times. "We are looking forward to seeing justice prevail in this case."

Barosy was charged in a federal indictment late last month with a hodgepodge of financial crimes including wire fraud, money laundering, and identity theft. He faces up to 132 years in prison. Conditions for his release from the Joseph V. Conte Facility in Pompano Beach on January 6 include not being able to open any new bank accounts or possess a credit card with a credit line exceeding $1,000 and surrendering his passport.

"You have to remember Mr. Barosy is not a violent person and has never been arrested before," Canady says, adding, in reference to his client's release, "I would say, like for any person who was being held in custody, that he was relieved."

Barosy's original hearing was to decide whether he'd be able to set his bond on January 3, but Barosy didn't appear because of the possible COVID exposure, his attorneys say. The hearing was rescheduled for two days later.

But Canady says the jail could not provide his client a definitive quarantine period, and that it could have stretched for as much as 14 days. This prevented Barosy from attending a hearing at which he'd be expected to sign bail paperwork and could have kept him behind bars despite the fact that a judge had already signed off on the bond.

Cannady says his client did not contract COVID and that the judge granted a motion from Barosy's legal team that allowed for two of his siblings to appear in his stead, according to court filings.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which went into effect March 29, 2020, was intended to offer emergency financial help to struggling American businesses cover payroll and other business-related expenses in the form of a $349 billion forgivable loan package. Congress OK'd an additional $300 billion the following month.

Federal prosecutors allege that as businesses across the U.S. began to shutter as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns, Barosy and unnamed associates submitted a handful of fraudulent loan applications seeking more than $4.2 million, lying about their credit repair company's expenses, net profit, and on various Internal Revenue Service tax forms.

Cannady says he and Barosy look forward to "justice prevailing" in this case.

What prevailing justice looks like when you're accused of swindling the federal government out of millions — money earmarked to help struggling businesses stay afloat  — in order to buy expensive luxury items for yourself remains to be seen.