MIAMI (WSVN) - A self-described head pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Miami has been sentenced to 48 months in federal prison for his involvement in defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program for over $1 million.

According to a press release by the United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of Florida, Elie Floradin, 59, orchestrated the scheme by repeatedly submitting false and fraudulent PPP applications through a mediator. These applications sought federal COVID-19 assistance funds for fictitious companies that did not exist.

Notably, Floradin claimed to operate a fabricated employment agency and declared payments of approximately $960,000 in annual wages to dozens of employees who did not actually work for the non-existent business.

Officials said the scheme began with the successful receipt of an initial PPP loan worth around $200,000. He proceeded to submit three additional fraudulent PPP applications on behalf of his fictional hiring agency, seeking approximately $600,000 in additional PPP loans.

Those subsequent funding requests were ultimately denied.

Following Floradin’s guilty plea, the government uncovered another fraudulent PPP loan that had been previously filed in his name. This fraudulent loan resulted in the disbursement of approximately $336,000 in additional PPP funds to Floradin.

In total, Floradin admitted to fraudulently applying for more than $1 million in COVID-19 assistance funds and confessed to receiving over half of that amount through deceitful means.

Alongside his prison sentence, Floradin has been ordered to repay $535,996 in restitution to the United States government.

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