Broward County Sherriff’s Former Deputy Gets 7 Months for $31K PPP Fraud

June 7, 2024

Delaney Sexton
Contributing Editor

Broward County Sherriff’s Former Deputy Gets 7 Months for $31K PPP Fraud

The 17 Broward Sheriff’s Office employees who were criminally charged for committing PPP fraud have all gone to trial or accepted a plea deal as of this week. Here are the recent updates on the Broward Sheriff’s Office employees:

Stephanie Smith, a former deputy sheriff, was sentenced to 7 months for illegally obtaining $31,108 in PPP funds. While employed at the Broward Sheriff’s Office, she applied for two PPP loans for two sole proprietorship businesses. The loan applications were based on materially false gross income information and falsified IRS tax forms. Both were approved, and she later applied for forgiveness.

Smith is the only one of the BSO employees to have been sentenced to prison so far. Her sentence is followed by a 3-year term of supervised release, $31,108 in restitution, a $2,000 fine, and forfeiture.

This week, the last of the 17 BSO employees went to trial and was found guilty. Alexandra Acosta worked at BSO for 10 years, and she had served on the SWAT team. She was convicted on Wednesday of using a real estate company to apply for and receive a $20,180 PPP loan. With the help of a tax preparer, she submitted falsified income, tax, and other records. The Miami Herald reports that she did take the witness stand to defend herself, but the jury decided she was guilty after three hours of deliberation.

A BSO lieutenant, Ernest Bernard Gonder Jr., admitted to fraudulently applying for and receiving $167,750 in PPP loans. His applications contained misrepresentations about the average monthly payroll and the number of employees at the business. The applications included fraudulent IRS Forms 941. Last Wednesday, the judge sentenced Gonder to one year of house arrest and five years of probation in addition to restitution.

Gonder’s brother also worked at Broward Sheriff’s Office as a BSO deputy, and he pleaded guilty to a wire fraud charge on Monday. This was in connection to a fraudulent $20,833 PPP loan. The Miami Herald writes that he will most likely receive a probationary sentence.

Another BSO employee went to trial, but the jury was unable to reach a decision after nine hours of deliberating in the case of Carolyn Denise Wade. Wade is accused of fraudulently obtaining a $21,000 PPP loan. On the side, Wade had a job as a beautician, but her business had lost money prior to the pandemic. The government is accusing her of lying on tax forms to make her business appear profitable. Since the jury did not reach a unanimous verdict, she will be tried again.

U.S. Attorney’s Office Press Release
Miami Herald Article Smith
Miami Herald Article Acosta
Sun Sentinel Article Wade
Broward County Sherriff’s Office Facebook