Daniela Rendon, a well-known Miami real estate agent and social media personality, has been sentenced to prison. The reason? She misused COVID PPP funds on expensive purchases. Rendon is said to have bought a fancy car, a high-end apartment and even had plastic surgery using the relief funds from the government.
The details reveal she got $381,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans given by Washington. However, how she got this money is the problem. Prosecutors say she lied about her business details. This includes giving fake reports about how much money she made, saying she had employees when she didn’t, and showing payroll amounts that were not true. She also gave wrong tax documents to the IRS.
What’s more, USA Today mentioned that Rendon wrongly said her family and friends were her employees. This helped her get more money.
Interestingly, Rendon wrote a long article, 30 pages long, about how COVID-19 was harming people. She even talked about starting charity groups to help people hurt by the virus and the rules that shut many things down.
Daniela Rendon sentenced to 3.5 years for $381K COVID loan fraud https://t.co/fTkDllD5E2
— Hussein Ebrahim (@therealhebrahim) August 20, 2023
In court, the 31-year-old mom of three shared her feelings. She said, “I wanted more and more, even though it was wrong.” She also added that it seemed like everyone was doing the same thing at the time. Rendon said she thought she was only tricking the government, not real people.
Last week, Rendon got a sentence of three and a half years in prison. In April, she admitted to one fraud charge. After this, other charges against her were dropped. These included more fraud charges and charges about using someone’s identity wrongly and laundering money.
Judge K. Michael Moore was the one who decided her punishment. He thanked Rendon for saying she was sorry. He gave her the least amount of time she could get. If not, she could have been in prison for up to 20 years just for the fraud. Her lawyers had asked for only five years of not being in jail, but the judge said no.
Judge Moore told Rendon that the money she took was from regular people. He said, “That money comes from everyday folks. They pay to the government, and that’s why programs like this exist.”
In the early COVID-19 days, the government quickly gave a lot of money to help the country’s business. Now, they are trying to get back about $200 billion that was wrongly taken.