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Trombley & Hanes Tampa Criminal Lawyer
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Tampa CARES Act Fraud Defense Lawyer

In March 2020, Congress enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide emergency financial assistance to individuals and businesses suffering economic effects due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Relief under the CARES Act has been provided mainly through two major programs – the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), offering funding to businesses through PPP loans for payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent and utilities, and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, providing economic relief to small businesses experiencing a temporary loss of revenue because of government-mandated shutdowns and restrictions, a reduced workforce, and other effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over two trillion dollars has flowed through the CARES Act programs, including mainly PPP and EIDL but also several others, such as:

  • Economic Impact Payments (EIP)
  • Provider Relief Fund (PRF)
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)

People suspected of committing fraud related to any of these programs could face both criminal and civil liability, meaning they could be imprisoned for a term of years and also exposed to numerous and hefty civil money penalties. The Tampa CARES Act fraud defense lawyers at Trombley & Hanes, P.A. practice both white collar criminal defense and civil litigation, representing clients in Tampa, throughout Florida and nationwide who have been accused of defrauding the government. Contact Trombley & Hanes, P.A. for advice and assistance regarding charges related to CARES Act fraud litigation.

Government Agencies Investigating and Enforcing CARES Act Fraud Charges

A charge of committing fraud related to programs under the CARES Act could come from many different quarters. The leading government agencies investigating and prosecuting CARES Act fraud crimes are:

  • Department of Justice
  • Small Business Administration – Office of the Inspector General
  • US Treasury, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
  • Federal Reserve Board
  • Florida Attorney General and other State Attorneys General

DOJ Enforcement Tools

The Department of Justice is using both criminal and civil enforcement tools against people suspected of engaging in CARES Act fraud. DOJ’s two main civil enforcement tools are the False Claims Act (FCA) and the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA).

False Claims Act (FCA)

This law creates liability for knowingly submitting a false claim to the government, causing another to submit a false claim to the government, or knowingly making a false record or statement to get a false claim paid by the government. The DOJ is using the FCA to target individuals accused of submitting false claims for PPP loans and other CARES Act programs. The “knowledge” requirement of an FCA claim can be key to a successful prosecution or defense. The knowledge element turns on showing either actual knowledge, deliberate ignorance or reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the information.

Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA)

While the FCA dates back to the American Civil War, FIRREA owes its birth to the savings and loan crisis of the late 20th century, and its rebirth to the residential mortgage meltdown of the early 21st century. FIRREA, through its civil money penalty provision, is now being pressed into service as a tool for fighting CARES Act fraud. Depending on the underlying statute involved, the government might need to do no more than prove the predicate offense to invoke a FIRREA penalty. In other cases, the prosecution bears the additional burden of proving the alleged violation affected a federally insured financial institution. As a civil law, the burden of proof required of the government is considerably lower than in the case of criminal prosecution. Civil money penalties under FIRREA can amount to $1.1 million per violation, $1.1 million per day or $5.5 million per violation for continuing violations, and considerably more to match the amount of pecuniary gain or loss involved.

Help With CARES Act Fraud Defense in Tampa, Florida & Nationwide

Trombley & Hanes, P.A. is a boutique litigation firm that represents clients in both criminal defense and civil litigation. The firm is experienced in all manner of white collar criminal defense and fraud charges as well as allegations of misconduct under the False Claims Act and other federal laws. For help with CARES Act claims of criminal or civil misconduct in Tampa, Florida, or nationwide, call Trombley & Hanes, P.A. at 813-229-7918, or contact the firm online to schedule a consultation.

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