Attorney Derek Acree Sentenced to Prison for $1.6 Million in COVID-19 Aid Fraud

MIAMI – Derek James Acree, 47, of Palm Beach County, Fla., was sentenced today to 41 months in prison for submitting fraudulent grant applications seeking more than $1.6 million in unforgiveness. Financial Crisis Loans (EIDL) and Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans. These loans are approved by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Acree received approximately $1.6 million by submitting fraudulent EIDL and PPP applications for companies he owned in whole or in part. These companies include National Financial Holdings Inc., NFH Florida LLC, DBA Finova Financial LLC, and National Financial Holding Technology LLC. The loans misrepresented the number of employees, wages, and income.

When Acree discovered the fraudulent loan, Acree gave some of the money to others and used some of it as spending money. for buying her home, as well as buying jewelry, travel, and renovating her boat/home.

Acree pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in October 2022. In addition, he was ordered to pay $1.26 million in restitution and $1.6 million in restitution. assets.

Juan Antonio Gonzalez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; and Special Agent in Charge Robert M. Dewitt, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.

The West Palm Beach FBI investigated the case. Assistant Attorney General Robin W. Waugh prosecuted, while Assistant Attorney General Joshua Pastor handled the asset forfeiture.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize the Department of Justice’s resources in partnership with federal agencies. governments to increase efforts to combat and prevent fraud. The Task Force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute domestic and international criminals and assists law enforcement agencies. implementing fraud prevention assistance programs, among other methods, supplementing and integrating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and methods to identifying fraudsters and their schemes, and sharing and using information and data obtained from previous enforcement efforts. For information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

On September 15, 2022, the Attorney General selected the Southern District of Florida’s US Attorney’s Office to head one of the nation’s three COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force Teams. The Department of Justice established the Strike Force to enhance existing efforts to combat and prevent COVID-19 financial fraud. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please click here.

Anyone with information about alleged fraud attempts involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Bureau the National Disaster Response Force (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or the NCDF Web Complaint Form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

It can be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or c http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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