A Florida couple has been arrested for a COVID relief scam where they filed at least 70 fraudulent loan applications dating back to March 2020. The pair received almost $6 million in relief funds, according to prosecutors.
WSVN reports that Julio Lugo, 44, and Rosenide Venant, 37, were charged with conspiracy and making false statements to a financial institution. Lugo faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted, while Venant faces up to 35 years.
The couple obtained the money illegally from the Small Business Administration using shell companies that the couple and their family members created. The pair sought funds from the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. The programs were created to help businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.
The outlet reports the couple spent the money on gambling and to pay off a luxury vehicle. Lugo also posted a video to his Facebook account showing “a hotel room littered with $100 bills and at least $5,000 in merchandise from Louis Vuitton,” authorities said on Friday in a press release.