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Two South Florida Men Sentenced For COVID-19 Relief Fraud

James Stote of Hollywood And Phillip Augustin Of Coral Springs Sentenced After COVID-19 Relief Fraud Scheme

Two South Florida Men Sentenced For Covid-19 Relief Fraud
Two South Florida Men Sentenced For Covid-19 Relief Fraud

CORAL SPRINGS, FL – Boca Post (BocaPost.com) — Two local men have been sentenced to some serious time after the DOJ says they led a nationwide scheme to defraud the PPP for millions of dollars.

From the Department of Justice:

Two Florida men were sentenced Friday for leading a nationwide scheme to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for millions of dollars in loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio sentenced James Stote, 56, of Hollywood, to 78 months in prison, and Phillip J. Augustin, 53, of Coral Springs, to 120 months in prison. Stote and Augustin each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud on Dec. 14, 2021. 

According to court documents, Augustin and Stote obtained a fraudulent PPP loan for Augustin’s company, Clear Vision Music Group LLC, using falsified documents. After submitting that application, Stote and Augustin immediately began trying to illicitly obtain larger PPP loans for themselves and their associates. Stote and Augustin recruited additional PPP loan applicants and prepared and submitted fraudulent loan applications for them in exchange for a share of the loan proceeds. Augustin used his network of business contacts as a manager for professional football players to recruit loan applicants. The applications they submitted for these loans relied on fake payroll numbers, falsified IRS forms, and phony bank statements. Stote submitted or facilitated at least 79 fraudulent loan applications worth at least $35 million. Among those loans, Augustin was responsible for at least 34 fraudulent loan applications worth at least $15 million.

In addition to his prison sentence, Stote was ordered to serve three years of supervised released and pay more than $10.1 million in restitution and more than $1.1 million in forfeiture. Augustin was ordered to serve three years of supervised released and pay more than $5.9 million in restitution and more than $272,000 in forfeiture.

In total, 25 people have been charged for their participation in this scheme in the Northern District of Ohio, Southern District of Florida, and Middle District of North Carolina.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler for the Northern District of Ohio; Special Agent in Charge Bryant Jackson of the IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Cincinnati Field Office; Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division; Interim Special Agent in Charge Philip E Frigm Jr. of the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Sharon Johnson of the SBA’s Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG) Central Region made the announcement.

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