FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — An attorney from Palm Beach Gardens was sentenced Wednesday to 41 months in federal prison for submitting fraudulent loan applications seeking more than $1.6 million in loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
Derek James Acree, 47, obtained submitting fraudulent forgivable Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Paycheck Protection Program loan applications for companies he owned in whole or in part, according to the Department of Justice. These companies included National Financial Holdings Inc., NFH Florida LLC, DBA Finova Financial LLC, and National Financial Holding Technology LLC.
The loans misrepresented the number of employees, payroll expenses and gross revenues, DOJ said.
The Justice Department said he transferred some of the loans to others and a portion was used as a down payment for the purchase of his home, as well as used to purchase jewelry, travel and repairs on his boat/home.
In October, Acree entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Judge Raag Sinkha ordered him to pay $1.26 million in restitution and $1.6 million in asset forfeiture.
Acree was admitted to the Florida Bar in 2002 after attending law school at the University of Florida.
FBI West Palm Beach investigated the case.
The loans are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration
On May 17, 2021, the U.S. attorney general established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the DOJ in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud.
On Sept. 15, THE Southern District of Florida’s U.S. Attorney’s Office was selected to head one of three national COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force Teams.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form [usg02.safelinks.protection.office365.us].