Miami couple claimed to be farmers; cheated taxpayers out of $1 million in Covid relief

A Miami couple who pretended to be farmers and sought more than $1 million in taxpayer-funded Covid relief has been sentenced to prison.

Latoya Stanley received a year and a half sentence. Her partner Johnny Philus received two and a half years.

The Dept. of Justice says Stanley and Philus claimed to employ people on small farms in the yards of Miami homes. However, the farms do not exist.

The couple also pretended to run companies employing dozens of people. However, they did not employ anyone.

Both plead guilty to one charge in a plea bargain.

Read the Dept. of Justice announcement below:

Couple Who Falsely Claimed to be Farmers Sentenced in $1.1 Million COVID-Relief Fraud 

A Florida couple was sentenced to prison today for their participation in a scheme to file four fraudulent loan applications seeking more than $1.1 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

Latoya Stanley, 38, and Johnny Philus, 33, both of Miami, were sentenced today to 18 and 30 months in prison, respectively. They each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud on March 8. As set forth in court documents, in Stanley’s PPP application, she claimed to employ 18 individuals from her company, Dream Gurl Beauty Supply LLC. Philus, meanwhile, stated that he employed 29 individuals at his company, Elegance Auto Boutique LLC. In actuality, Stanley and Philus did not employ anyone at their respective companies. 

According to court documents, in her EIDL application, Stanley claimed to generate over $800,000 in income and to employ five individuals from a farm based in the yard of her Miami home. In his EIDL application, Philus claimed to generate $400,000 in income and to employ 10 individuals from a farm located in the yard of a small residential home. But, in reality, Stanley and Philus employed no one and the farms did not exist.

As they admitted in their plea agreements, Stanley and Philus worked together to effectuate the fraud and ultimately received over $1 million in funds from the fraudulent PPP and EIDL applications before their schemes were uncovered.

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3 thoughts on “Miami couple claimed to be farmers; cheated taxpayers out of $1 million in Covid relief”

  1. Were they ordered to repay the money or have assets seized? A couple of years in jail might seem pretty doable to other scammers for one million dollars!

  2. When the government puts free money on the table, people will pick it up. Start by assuming graft will happen, and build in bullet proof fraud protections.

    Free money is never a 100% feel good operation. It is a gilt edge invitation for fraud. We must have learned this by now. Too bad for the people who really needed and qualified for this relief money. The Grifters need to make good to them too.

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