Money Rod facing 20 years in Prison after Guilty Plea in PPP Fraud in Miami; Rapper Awaiting Sentence

Money Rod, a hip-hop artist, named his company Dreams Come True Records. It was based in North Miami Beach.

His real name is Rodney McClain, but he’s not exactly living the dream. The music artist might be going to jail.

McClain, who is 35 years old, pleaded guilty to wire theft on Tuesday for stealing money from a COVID-19 pandemic loan program. He could spend up to twenty years in jail. Based on hundreds of similar cases in South Florida, it’s not likely that he’ll get that much time, but he’ll probably be locked up. His sentence is set for August 29 in federal court in Miami before U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams.

Based in the Atlanta area, McClain admitted that in his application for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, he gave “false” information about how many workers he had, how much he paid them, how much money the business made, and how much tax he paid.

So, in May 2020, the hip-hop artist got a PPP loan for $600,157, which is what the theft charge is based on, according to court records. Authorities say he broke the law by spending more than $100,000 of the money on himself instead of paying the costs of running his film company.

Paul Petruzzi, McClain’s lawyer, said that the government has “clawed back nearly all of the money” that he got from the PPP loan and plans to get the rest through seizure.

McClain was arrested in March but is still free on bond. He grew up in the North Miami area and first became known for his underground solo recordings. Later, he had commercial releases, such as his 2023 song “No Help.” He makes music for other rappers too.

McClain’s loan was guaranteed by the Small Business Administration as part of the emergency CARES Act passed by Congress after the coronavirus swept the country in March 2020. The government gave private banks permission to lend $800 billion to businesses all over the country.

Court records show that the government is trying to get back the money McClain spent on himself as part of his future sentence.

McClain’s offense was commonplace during the COVID-19 pandemic in South Florida, recognized as the nation’s capital of fraud for ID theft, healthcare and other financial schemes.

A week ago, a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy who had served on the SWAT team was found guilty of defrauding the government’s loan program that helped businesses during the pandemic.

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Alexandra Acosta, a 10-year BSO veteran, was convicted of using a real estate company with help from a tax preparer to obtain a $20,180 loan from the Paycheck Protection Program in 2021. Prosecutors said she falsified income, tax and other records to qualify for the SBA-guaranteed loan.

Acosta was the last of 17 BSO deputies — all arrested last fall on PPP and other loan fraud charges — to go to trial or cut a plea deal. Acosta, 38, now faces prison time, like one other BSO employee who was recently imprisoned.

Although the amount of lost loan money, about $500,000 in total, was relatively modest compared to dozens of other COVID-19 relief fraud cases in South Florida, the sheer number of law enforcement officers charged with breaking the law in one police agency stood out as shocking, authorities said.

In South Florida, about 200 people have been charged with defrauding the PPP program, submitting hundreds of millions of dollars in applications deemed bogus by federal prosecutors. Almost all have been convicted, including Carillon Hotel developer Eric Sheppard, who was sentenced to one and a half years in prison on Friday as per Miami Herald.

Among others convicted: a businessman using PPP money to buy a $318,000 Lamborghini; a nurse who lied about his business to get $474,000 that was used in part to pay a Mercedes-Benz lease and child support; and a North Miami suburban couple who claimed to be farmers to qualify for $1 million in relief benefits.

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