Miami Police Officer Accused of Scamming Federal Loan Program (UPDATED)

Photo by Jacob Barone
Update published 3/23/2023 11:45 a.m.: The Miami Police Department confirmed that Officer Gregory Dennis has been relieved of duty as of the morning of March 23, 2023, after the federal loan-fraud charge against him came to light. He will retain his employment pending the department's review of the allegations.

New Times has reached out to local union representatives for comment.

The original story follows below.

A Miami police officer is facing federal prison time for allegedly submitting fraudulent documents to cash in on a COVID-19 relief program.

Prosecutors claim Gregory Dennis scammed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) by misrepresenting his business income when applying for a hardship loan tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. He allegedly submitted bogus tax forms to a California-based lender through its contractor's online loan application portal.

The Miami police officer, a Broward resident, is charged with a single count of felony wire fraud.

"That PPP loan application falsely represented the business's 2020 gross income, and as part of the application process, Dennis submitted a false and fraudulent IRS Form 1040... for tax year 2020," prosecutors claim.

Dennis submitted more false tax documents to secure a second PPP loan draw, prosecutors say. He received more than $41,000 in total through the Payroll Protection Program, according to court documents.

The name of the lender, based in Laguna Hills, is not disclosed in the criminal complaint.

The fraud charge has a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Based on a review of recent PPP loan fraud cases in South Florida, however, Dennis is not likely to face a two-decade sentence. His initial appearance is set for March 24 in Fort Lauderdale federal court.

According to a Miami Police Department spokesperson, Dennis is still employed with the department.

If Dennis winds up as fortunate as former Coral Springs police officer Jason Carter, he might avoid jail time altogether.

Last June, Carter was charged with fraud in connection with his application for COVID-19 relief funds through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program while serving as a Coral Springs officer. With an eye towards padding his loan funds, he claimed his business had $100,000 in revenue, when in actuality, it made nearly no money, the feds claimed. Carter allegedly spent a chunk of the loan funds on personal car repairs and high-end auto parts.

In December, a judge gave Carter five years probation and ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $30,000 along with a $5,000 fine. He had pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud, the same charge Dennis is facing.

Dennis's case is one of the latest in a PPP loan-fraud crackdown that has persisted since the peak of the pandemic early last year. As of September 2022, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of Florida had seized more than $23.5 million in stolen funds and prosecuted more than 80 fraud cases tied to government-backed COVID-19 loans.

The Payroll Protection Program was part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It provided forgivable loans to businesses to keep up with payroll and stay financially afloat during coronavirus-related closures and government-ordered shutdowns.

Nationwide, more than 1,500 defendants had been charged with COVID-relief loan fraud as of September 2022.
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Izzy Kapnick is the news editor at Miami New Times. He has worked as a legal news reporter in South Florida since 2008, covering environmental law, white-collar crime, and the healthcare industry.
Contact: Izzy Kapnick

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