Elie Floradin, self-described pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Miami, Florida, was tried and convicted of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan fraud after seeking more than $1 million in loans for fraudulent companies. Now he has been sentenced to 48 months in federal prison.
Through a mediator, Floradin repeatedly applied for PPP loans for fake companies, often described as employment agencies.
Elie Floradin Sentenced to 48 Months in Federal Prison
According to a press release from the Southern District of Florida Attorney’s Office, “Floradin caused an intermediary to repeatedly file false and fraudulent PPP applications, which sought federal COVID-19 assistance funds for companies that did not exist.”
One of the fake companies was described as an employment agency, which Floradin said had dozens of employees and an annual payroll of $960,000.
Floradin received a $200,000 PPP loan and then caused a third party to submit three additional fraudulent PPP applications based on non-existent companies, totaling another $600,000. The last three applications were denied.
At trial, Floradin pled guilty to the charges of PPP loan fraud. He admitted to applying for more than $1 million in aid and was sentenced to serve 48 months in federal prison.
This isn’t the first case of PPP loan fraud from a church leader. Pastor Frank Jacobs of North Carolina pled guilty to fraud charges after he submitted inaccurate information.
In another example from Florida, a pastor and his son named Evan Edwards and Josh Edwards, respectively, were convicted in a PPP loan fraud case of more than $8 million. “More than $8.4 million of PPP funds were then deposited into an Edwards family bank account that, until then, had a balance of $25, according to the federal complaint. Afterward, say prosecutors, the family spread out the loan money in various accounts “’in an attempt to hide and conceal their whereabouts,’” reports Stephanie Martin of ChurchLeaders.
Pastor Rudolph Brooks Jr. was charged with PPP loan fraud in Maryland. Brooks “allegedly used PPP money to purchase 39 cars, one of which was a 2018 Model 3 Tesla that cost $60k.”
Floradin Ordered To Pay Back More than $500,000
After Floradin pled guilty, the government learned of yet another fraudulent PPP loan application connected to him that was approved. Floradin received around $336,000 in the form of a PPP loan for a fake company.
With the two fraudulently obtained loans dispensing $200,000 and around $336,000, respectively, Floradin was ordered to pay back the full $535,996 to the United States government. This amount was in addition to his prison sentence.