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Federal Prosecutors In Florida Announce More COVID-19 Fraud Charges


On January 17th, 2023, the United States Attorneys’ Office for the Middle District of Florida provided a comprehensive update on its effort to combat COVID-19 related fraud. Several new criminal charges were filed against defendants in the region in December of 2022. In this article, our Orlando white collar criminal defense lawyer discusses some of the most recent COVID-19 fraud charges filed by prosecutors in Central Florida.

An Update on Recent COVID-19 Fraud Charges Filed in Central Florida 

In March of 2020, state and federal authorities in Central Florida joined together to create the Middle District of Florida COVID-19 Fraud Task Force. Between March of 2020 and December of 2022, the task force has filed criminal fraud charges against 52 individuals for COVID-19 schemes. Charges have been filed for fraud against a number of different state/federal programs, including:

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP);
  • Main Street Lending Program (MSLP); and
  • Unemployment insurance claims (UI).

As of January of 2023, 37 of the 52 people charged by the task force have been convicted. The other 15 who have been charged are still facing pending criminal charges. Here are some examples:

  • Don V. Cisternino, a 47 year old Central Florida man, has been sentenced to eight years and six months in federal prison for wire fraud. Mr. Cisternino was charged for obtaining a fraudulent $7.2 million PPP loan.
  • A father and son Canadian pair in Central Florida was arrested and charged with a federal crime in December for obtaining nearly $8.5 million in fraudulent PPP loans based on a false claim on nearly 500 employees that their company did not actually have. They are facing felony charges under the CARES Act as well as visa fraud charges (immigration offense). 

Regulators, Law Enforcement, and Prosecutors are Cracking Down on COVID-19 Fraud 

As the press release from the United States Attorneys’ Office for the Middle District of Florida demonstrates, regulators, police, and federal & state prosecutors are continuing their efforts to crack down on COVID-19 fraud. This matter remains a very high priority for authorities. This includes everything from Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud to vaccine-related schemes.

Any person facing a white collar criminal charge for a COVID-19 related offense should consult with an experienced Central Florida white collar defense lawyer as soon as possible. A qualified attorney can help you understand the charges, build a defense strategy, navigate the complex legal system—with a focus on protecting your rights and help you secure the best outcome. 

Contact Our Orlando, FL White Collar Criminal Defense Attorneys Today

At The Baez Law Firm, our Orlando white collar crimes lawyer is a sophisticated, experienced advocate for clients. If you or your family member was charged with any type of COVID-19 related fraud offense, we are here to help. Reach out to us by phone or connect with us online to arrange your confidential, no obligation consultation. We provide white collar criminal defense services in Orlando, Orange County, and throughout Central Florida.



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