Florida couple charged with $ 5.8 million in COVID rescue fraud

DAVENPORT – A Florida couple accused of COVID relief fraud have filed dozens of bogus loan applications totaling nearly $ 6 million, prosecutors said.

Julio Lugo, 44, and Rosenide Venant, 37, used part of the $ 5.8 million to reimburse a luxury vehicle and spent more than $ 62,000 in casinos, according to the US attorney’s office of the Middle District of Florida.

Lugo also posted a video on Facebook showing “a hotel room littered with $ 100 bills and at least $ 5,000 in Louis Vuitton merchandise,” officials said in a press release Friday. The money was illegally obtained from the Small Business Administration.

As of March 2020, prosecutors said Lugo and Venant have submitted at least 70 fraudulent loan applications soliciting funds from the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Disaster Loan Program, listing front companies that themselves or their loved ones have created.

They are each accused of conspiracy and making false statements to a financial institution, the newspaper reported. Lugo faces a maximum sentence of 45 years in federal prison if convicted, while Venant faces up to 35 years in prison.

The court records did not mention lawyers for Lugo or Venant.

The FBI and the Internal Revenue Service’s Tampa field office are investigating the case, the statement said.

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