A Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation sergeant pleaded guilty Wednesday to submitting falsified applications for more than $400,000 in COVID-19 relief funds.
Arashio Harris, 48, who was charged with wire fraud in July, applied for two Paycheck Protection Program loans as well as two Economic Injury Disaster Loans and an advance to “unlawfully enrich himself,” according to court records. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison at his sentencing on Oct. 27.
The Paycheck Protection Program, which was passed by Congress to help keep businesses intact and the economy going during the pandemic, allocated about $800 billion in loans through banks that were entirely guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. In almost all instances, the loans were forgiven as long as the money was used for payroll and other legitimate overhead costs.
But Harris, with the help of an associate, submitted applications to abuse these programs as the owner and president of the Nevada-based Good Family Property Solutions Inc. and Flying Lions LLC, court records say.
In 2020, Harris claimed that Good Family Property Solutions made $130,000 and had nine employees before the pandemic. That opened the door for the company to receive a $9,000 advance, which didn’t need to be paid back, and $14,500 in an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
Months later, he submitted another bogus application, court records say. This time, Harris claimed that Flying Lions made $480,000 and had 10 employees before the pandemic. The company got $150,000 in an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
The Miami-Dade man then decided to expand his scheme to PPP loans under the guise that Good Family Property Solutions had 10 employees — and a payroll of almost $52,000 every month.
Harris, according to court records, submitted fabricated paperwork that stated the company earned more than $1 million and paid beyond $768,000 in wages. The PPP-loan application included phony payroll records for alleged employees — and counterfeit tax forms.
However, Harris obtained more than $129,000 in a PPP loan from an approved lender. And in 2021, he did it again with the same fake documents and received the same amount in a PPP loan from a different lender.
South Florida, long known as the nation’s capital of fraud schemes, has incurred more than 140 PPP criminal cases over the past three years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In July, a former detention guard for Immigration and Customs Enforcement was also charged with submitting falsified applications for COVID-19 relief loans. Federal prosecutors allege that Anthony Faustin, 28, submitted a series of loan applications for six fake business owners, obtaining more than $100,000 from lenders.
Also in July, Miami-Dade police officer Samuel Harris, 43, pleaded guilty to reviving a dead company and using it as a vessel for a $275,479 COVID-19 relief loan fraud.