Bal Harbour Developer Convicted of Covid Relief Loan Fraud in Florida

Miami Beach, FL: A developer in South Florida has been convicted of COVID-19 relief fraud for defrauding private lenders and the Small Business Administration, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida (USAO).

Eric Dean Sheppard, 55, of Bal Harbour, was convicted on January 12 of submitting bogus COVID-19 relief loan applications and aggravated identity theft.

According to the evidence presented at his trial, Sheppard devised a scheme to defraud private lenders and the Small Business Administration (SBA) by submitting fraudulent loan applications for multiple companies under both the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs.

Fake documentation, such as the employer’s quarterly tax returns (IRS Form 941) and business tax returns, backed the applications. Furthermore, evidence proved that Sheppard’s accountant’s signature on the tax returns was forgery.

From May 2020 to March 2021, Sheppard received over $900,000 in COVID-19 relief loans, according to the USAO.

A jury convicted Sheppard on four counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. He was cleared of five counts of wire fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft. The sentencing date is April 5, 2024.

Sheppard is facing a required minimum sentence of two years in prison, which must run concurrently with any other sentence given on the aggravated identity theft count(s). He faces up to 80 years in jail on wire fraud charges, as well as repayment and forfeiture of loan proceeds.

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