2 Florida men guilty of running $35M COVID-19 fraud scheme

Crime

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Two South Florida men have pleaded guilty in Ohio to leading a nationwide scheme to fraudulently obtain over $35 million in COVID-19 relief loans.

Court records show 55-year-old James Stote and 52-year-old Phillip Augustin pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They each face up to 20 years in prison.

According to court documents, Stote and Augustin led a group that fraudulently obtained Paycheck Protection Program loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

A total of 25 people have been charged in Ohio, Florida and North Carolina with participating in his scheme, with 20 convictions thus far.

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