Former Miami-Dade police officer pleads guilty to COVID-19 relief fraud


Date: July 3, 2023


Samuel Harris, who was a police officer with the Miami-Dade Police Department ("MDPD"), has pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with his fraudulent applications for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan ("EIDL"), and an EIDL advance. Harris entered his guilty plea in Miami today before U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr.

According to the facts admitted at the change of plea, Harris, who was a full-time MDPD police officer, also was the owner and president of Oregen Digital, Inc. ("Oregen"). Working with an associate, on June 29, 2020, Harris submitted and caused to be submitted a false and fraudulent PPP loan application falsely claiming that Oregen had 10 employees and a monthly payroll of over $50,000 per month. In support of this application, Harris submitted a fraudulent IRS Form W-3 falsely claiming that Oregen had paid 10 employees over $602,000 in wages during 2019. As a result of this false and fraudulent application, Harris obtained a $125,579 PPP loan from a Georgia-based SBA-approved PPP lender.

Harris also admitted that on June 30, 2020, he caused to be submitted to the SBA a false and fraudulent EIDL application in the name of Oregen, seeking both an EIDL and an EIDL advance. In this fraudulent application, Harris falsely claimed that for the twelve-month period prior to January 31, 2020, Oregen had gross revenues of over $859,000 and 10 employees. As a result of this fraudulent application, Oregen obtained from the SBA a $10,000 EIDL advance that did not need to be repaid and $149,900 in EIDL loan proceeds.

Harris is scheduled for sentencing on September 25 at 8:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Scola in Miami, where he faces a possible maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Matthew D. Line of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Miami Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of the FBI, Miami Field Office, and SBA OIG's Eastern Region Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite, U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General (SBA OIG), Investigations Division's Eastern Region, announced the guilty plea.

The FBI's Miami Area Corruption Task Force, which includes task force officers from the Miami-Dade Police Department's Professional Compliance Bureau, IRS-CI, and SBA OIG investigated the case. U.S. Attorney Lapointe thanked the Miami-Dade County Office of Inspector General for their invaluable assistance with this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward N. Stamm is prosecuting the case.

In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security ("CARES") Act was enacted. It was designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other sources of relief, the CARES Act authorized and provided funding to the SBA to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loans ("EIDLs") to eligible small businesses, including sole proprietorships and independent contractors, experiencing substantial financial disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic to allow them to meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could otherwise have been met had the disaster not occurred. EIDL applications were submitted directly to the SBA via the SBA's on-line application website, and the applications were processed and the loans funded for qualifying applicants directly by the SBA.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information, please visit the Department's coronavirus response page.

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

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice's National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.