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Coral Springs residents arrested over alleged COVID relief fund misappropriation

Coral Springs, Florida – In a recent development, two residents of Coral Springs, alongside two other family members, have been apprehended in connection with an alleged COVID loan fraud, as per the reports from the state officials.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the suspects include Coral Springs residents Steeve Roberts, aged 39, and his wife, Johnnie Jean, 42, along with their nieces, Amanda Pierre-Philippe, 21, and Stephanie Paul, 26, both from Miami.

In March 2021, a statewide investigation led by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office was initiated. The investigation uncovered that Roberts had been exploiting funds allocated by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act for his personal gain, stated the FDLE.

Further investigations brought to light that Roberts had untruthfully applied for a Payroll Protection Plan loan and an Economic Injury Disaster Loan. He is also accused of setting up a sham corporation in North Miami Beach, purportedly offering business services, as alleged by FDLE.

Due to false claims regarding the corporation’s activities, profits, losses, and workforce strength, Roberts reportedly received in excess of $500,000 in federal COVID relief funds. FDLE sources indicate that instead of utilizing these funds for his business operations, Roberts allocated them for the acquisition of a Coral Springs residence, the purchase of luxury items, and the bail for an incarcerated associate.

The investigative authorities discovered that other family members, namely Jean, Pierre-Philippe, and Paul, were implicated in this fraudulent scheme.

Official records reveal that Roberts and Jean have been charged with one count each of an organized scheme to defraud, conspiracy to commit an organized scheme to defraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Pierre-Philippe and Paul are each facing a single count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

“These criminals pilfered over half a million dollars by submitting dishonest loan applications to COVID relief programs,” expressed Moody. “Funds designated to sustain employment during the pandemic were instead utilized for their personal acquisitions. I express my gratitude to our law enforcement partners for their diligent investigative work and my statewide prosecutors in this case.”

FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass stated that the individuals perpetrating such extensive fraud would face repercussions.

Roberts and Jean were taken into custody on June 6 and are currently detained at the Broward County Jail with a bond set at $1 million each. Pierre-Philippe and Paul were arrested on June 7 and are being held at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami-Dade County on a $10,000 bond each.

The case will be brought to court by the Office of Statewide Prosecution, as per official information.

Raymond Simpson

Raymond Simpson is a California native, a longtime Coral Springs resident, and the Editor at TSFD. He lives with his family in Coral Springs, where you can find him on weekends running – literally running – with his two golden retrievers.

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