Miami real estate agent Daniela Rendon was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for using COVID-19 relief funds from the government for inappropriate purchases. Rendon leased a luxury vehicle and apartment and had various cosmetic procedures performed with the money.
She received $381,000 through the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans under her companies, Rendon PA and Rendon Holdings. She was accused of lying about her revenue and payroll to qualify for the PPP loans. She also submitted fraudulent IRS tax forms.
Miami real estate broker who used $381,000 in PPP loans on a Bentley, apartment & luxury lifestyle, sentenced to 3.5 years in prison… during sentencing her excuse was “everybody was doing it” pic.twitter.com/Z2TwxEWJ2t
— SAY CHEESE! 👄🧀 (@SaycheeseDGTL) August 20, 2023
Reports state that she enrolled her friends, family members, and herself as employees of Rendon PA to disperse the checks, according to the indictment. The self-proclaimed “ultra-luxury” real estate agent submitted these falsified reports to Idaho and New Jersey lenders.
Rendon reportedly used the payroll processor in New Jersey to facilitate the COVID relief loans through her business bank account. She then allegedly issued the relief checks to her family members and friends. Rendon used that money she obtained fraudulently to lease a 2021 Bentley Bentayga.
She didn’t stop there, either. Rendon also rented out a luxurious Biscayne Bay apartment, paid for cosmetic procedures, and refinished pairs of her designer shoes. She operated this scheme from April 2020 to April 2022.
The mother of three was charged with seven counts of wire fraud. She also got two counts of money laundering and one count of aggravated identity theft. She faced a maximum sentence of 20 years for her greediness.
After prosecutors dropped the other charges, Rendon pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in April 2023. She was sentenced to serve three and a half years in prison, the shortest recommended by sentencing guidelines. She will be under supervised release and owes around $200,000 in restitution.
Rendon said, “Looking back, it becomes all too tempting to utter the words ‘everybody was doing it’ as a feeble attempt to rationalize my actions.” She added, “I regretfully confess that I once foolishly believed that the victims of my crimes were merely the faceless entities of the U.S. government.”
The Office of Inspector General of the Small Business Administration released a report in June that found how much money was wasted on relief funds. Reports suggest that the federal government lost more than $200 billion in COVID-19 pandemic relief funds to fraud, waste, and abuse.