Miami Realtor Sentenced To Prison For Misusing COVID Funds

A Miami real estate agent was incarcerated for misusing COVID-19 relief funds from the government to acquire a Bentley, a luxury apartment, and cosmetic procedures.

Daniela Rendon secured $381,000 via the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans, utilizing her business entities Rendon PA and Rendon Holdings. Allegedly, in order to qualify for PPP loans, she manipulated her revenue, employee count, and payroll details at her real estate firm and submitted deceitful IRS tax documents.

According to the indictment, USA Today stated that she proceeded to enlist her friends, family members, and herself as employees of Rendon PA in order to distribute the checks.

Reportedly, she authored a 30-page thesis outlining the economic and social repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also proposed a strategy to establish nonprofit organizations aimed at assisting those impacted by the pandemic.

Describing herself as an “Ultra Luxury” real estate agent on LinkedIn, Rendon submitted the falsified reports to lenders in New Jersey and Idaho, as reported by the Miami Herald.

According to reports, Rendon utilized the payroll processor in New Jersey to facilitate the COVID relief loans through her corporate bank account. Subsequently, she purportedly distributed the checks to her family and friends.

Using funds fraudulently obtained from the Small Business Administration, the Florida real estate agent leased a 2021 Bentley Bentayga, rented a luxurious Biscayne Bay apartment, financed cosmetic procedures, and refurbished her designer shoes.

Allegedly, Rendon executed this scheme from April 2020 to April 2022.

Facing charges of seven counts of wire fraud, two counts of money laundering, and one count of aggravated identity theft, the 31-year-old mother of three could have been sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Rendon entered a guilty plea to a single count of wire fraud in April 2023, resulting in the dismissal of all other charges. She received a prison sentence of three and a half years, which is the minimum recommended by sentencing guidelines. Following her release, Rendon will be under supervision and is required to pay nearly $200,000 in restitution.

Rendon said she was “motivated by insatiable greed and made the following statement, “Looking back, it becomes all too tempting to utter the words ‘everybody was doing it’ as a feeble attempt to rationalize my actions. I regretfully confess that I once foolishly believed that the victims of my crimes were merely the faceless entities of the U.S. government.”

In June, the Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General published a report indicating that the federal government incurred losses exceeding $200 billion due to potential fraud, waste, and abuse of COVID-19 pandemic relief funds.

The report approximated that around 17% of the total $1.2 trillion in COVID relief funds were acquired through fraudulent schemes.