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Contractor In Florida Convicted Of COVID-19 Fraud


On January 16th, 2024, the United States District Attorneys’ Office for the Southern District of Florida announced that a contractor from Miami-Dade County has been convicted of a serious white collar felony charge for COVID-19 fraud. Here, our Orlando white collar criminal defense lawyer provides a detailed overview of the allegations raised and the charges filed in this case.

The Conviction: Nearly $1 Million in Fraudulent COVID-19 Relief Funds 

As confirmed by federal prosecutors, Eric Dean Sheppard, a 55-year-old man, from Miami-Dade County, Florida has been convicted of serious felony offenses for submitting fraudulent COVID-19 relief loan applications. The applications were backed by falsified documents like fabricated tax returns and forged accountant signatures. Beyond that, Mr. Sheppard was also convicted of federal aggravated identity theft. The criminal complaint found that Mr. Sheppard secured approximately $900,000 in improper COVID-19 funds. More specifically, he was convicted for defrauding:

  • Paycheck Program Program (PPP): Created as part of the March 2020 CARES Act, the PPP is a United States government initiative providing forgivable loans to small businesses to maintain payroll and cover certain other expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program: The EIDL is a federal loan program offering long-term, low-interest loans to small businesses and nonprofits suffering substantial economic injury due to disasters—including the COVID-19 pandemic.

An Overview of the Criminal Charges in the COVID-19 Fraud Case 

Federal and state law enforcement officials are continuing their effort to crackdown on COVID-19 fraud. Indeed, many of the white collar criminal cases being pursued in Florida are related to allegations of fraud committed against COVID-19 relief programs. To be clear, there is not a specific criminal statute for “COVID-19 fraud.” The charges filed against Mr. Sheppard are similar to many filed in COVID-19 white collar fraud cases. Here is an overview:

  • Wire Fraud (Convicted On Four Counts): Wire fraud involves the use of electronic communication or an interstate communications facility to intentionally defraud another party for financial gain. In this case, Mr. Sheppard was accused of utilizing electronic means to submit fraudulent loan applications under COVID-19 relief programs, including their PPP and the EIDL. Prosecutors convicted the defendants on four counts of wire fraud.
  • Aggravated Identity Theft (Convicted On Two Counts): The second criminal charge filed in this case is aggravated identity theft. It is a federal crime involving the unlawful use of another individual’s personal information without consent—especially when it is used to commit other felonies. In this case, it involved the forging of his accountant’s signature on tax returns submitted as part of the loan applications. 

Contact Our Orlando White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney Today

At The Baez Law Firm, our Orlando, FL white collar defense lawyer is a skilled, experienced advocate for clients. You deserve your day in court. Are you or your loved one facing any type of COVID-19 fraud charge? We can help. Contact us today to arrange your fully private case review. From our Orlando law office, our team is well-positioned to handle cases all across Florida.


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