FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A 41-year-old Port St. Lucie man and former Broward Sheriff’s Office detention lieutenant was charged with two counts of wire fraud for allegedly fraudulently obtaining $167,750 in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans for coronavirus relief.
On Tuesday, Ernest Bernard Gonder made his initial appearance in federal court in Fort Lauderdale. If convicted, Gonder faces up to 20 years in prison on each count. He was charged Jan. 5.
On April 1, 2021, he allegedly submitted a false and fraudulent PPP loan application misrepresenting EBG Properties LLC’s average monthly payroll and number of employees, according to the allegations.
Gonder also allegedly submitted multiple fraudulent IRS Forms 941, according to prosecutors. As a result of this false and fraudulent application, a New Jersey-based Small Business Administration-approved PPP lender disbursed $106,540 to a bank account controlled by Gonder in the name of EBG Properties.
The information also alleges that on April 6, 2021, Gonder submitted a second false and fraudulent PPP loan application misrepresenting The Impact Center of Broward County Inc.’s average monthly payroll and number of employees. Gonder also allegedly submitted multiple fraudulent IRS Forms 941. The New Jersey-based SBA-approved PPP lender disbursed $61,210 to a bank account controlled by Gonder in the name of The Impact Center of Broward County.
The information further alleges Gonder used the proceeds of the scheme to enrich himself.
Gonder also sought and received forgiveness of the two PPP loans he received as alleged.
The Paycheck Protection Program is a $953-billion business loan program established in 202 to help businesses, self-employed workers, sole proprietors, certain nonprofit organizations and tribal businesses continue paying their workers.
The Department of Justice’s is seeking toprosecute fraud in connection with COVID-19 pandemic relief programs that offered assistance under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, including the Paycheck Protection Program, and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, as well as other crimes relating to the pandemic.
The FBI, Broward Sheriff's Office and Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System investigated.