Like clockwork, yet another Miami law enforcement officer has been accused of milking cash from one of the federal government’s pandemic relief programs.
A Miami federal grand jury has charged Anthony Faustin, a 28-year-old former detention officer at Miami's Krome North Service Processing Center, with conspiracy, wire and bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft crimes for allegedly submitting fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan applications on behalf of half a dozen people as COVID-19 spread across the globe back in 2021.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Faustin tailored the applications to make the applicants appear eligible for pandemic relief by misrepresenting them as sole proprietors, lying about their prior income, or both.
"Lenders disbursed over $100,000 to bank accounts controlled by the individuals, who would then withdraw the money and gave Faustin his cut," reads a press release from the department.
At the time of his alleged crimes, Faustin was working as a contracted guard for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Krome center, the massive ICE facility on the edge of the Everglades.
An ICE spokesperson didn't immediately respond to an email asking when Faustin stopped working at the center.
Faustin faces a maximum sentence of 20 years on the conspiracy and fraud counts and two years on the identity theft counts.
As previously reported by New Times, at least three other onetime South Florida law enforcement officers have been charged since 2022 with defrauding the federal government on pandemic-relief loans.
In October 2022, an ex-Coral Springs police officer pleaded guilty to defrauding the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. In April, a former Miami police officer pleaded guilty to felony wire fraud for submitting bogus documents to cash in on COVID-19 relief funds. And early this month, a former Miami-Dade officer admitted to bilking the government out of pandemic relief money by submitting falsified documents about his company.
South Florida bustled with fraudulent COVID-19 loan activity at the height of the pandemic. As of September 2022, local federal prosecutors had seized more than $23.5 million in stolen funds and prosecuted dozens of cases tied to pandemic-relief fraud.
Last year, the Department of Justice announced it had selected its Southern District of Florida branch to lead one of three national COVID-19 "fraud strike force teams."
Faustin had an initial appearance on July 11 in federal magistrate court in Miami.
He's due again in court for his arraignment on July 13.