Miami Real Estate Broker Who Used $381K In COVID Relief Funds On Bentley, Luxe Apartment, Gets 3.5 Years In Prison


A Miami real estate agent who defrauded the government of $381,000 in COVID relief funding and spent the money on a Bentley, a lavish flat and cosmetic surgery was given a three-and-a-half year prison sentence.

After being indicted in February on six further counts of wire fraud, two counts of money laundering, and one count of aggravated identity theft, Daniela Rendon, 31, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud in April.

The extra charges were ultimately dropped by the prosecution.

The Miami Herald stated that Rendon, a mother of three and Colombian native, claimed during her sentence in Miami federal court on Thursday that her acts had been “motivated by insatiable greed” because it seemed like “everybody” at the time was illegally collecting COVID-19 relief loans.

However, once authorities discovered Rendon had been abusing the loan programmes, the former “Ultra Luxury” real estate agent understood she had actually been hurting “countless individuals and businesses” that had been hit hard by a “unprecedented period of economic distress,” rather than “faceless entities of the U.S. government.”

US District Judge K. Michael Moore said that Rendon’s confession, along with her hefty 30-page apology, led him to hand down the lenient sentence, ultimately sparing her an additional year in the clink. 

“It’s not as easy to see that you’re really stealing from your neighbors, your friends and other citizens,” Moore said.

“It’s their money that goes to the Treasury that makes it possible to have these kinds of programs.”

The PPP swindler could have faced up to 20 years on the lone wire fraud charge. Assistant US Attorney Jonathan Bailyn suggested Rendon serve a three-and-a-half-year sentence while her defense attorney, Robert Mandell, asked for just five years’ probation.

In addition to jail time, Rendon has to repay $198,990 to the feds. 

During the early days of the pandemic, the federal government rushed to prop up floundering businesses with emergency funding that would help them cover essential overhead costs.

The Small Business Administration quickly set up financial relief programs, such as the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and the Paycheck Protection Program loans, to help those struggling.

Daniela Rendon, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in April 2023 after the prosecution dropped six additional counts of wire fraud, two counts of money laundering and one count of aggravated identity theft.

Rendon, however, took advantage of the vulnerable programs by falsifying records linked to her real estate business — including her annual revenue, payroll, costs of products, IRS tax info and number of employees — to qualify for the COVID-era relief funding.

She wound up landing a $371,290 PPP loan and a $10,000 EIDL loan, according to the federal indictment. 

Rather than use the funds for legitimate business costs, Rendon proceeded to blow the windfall on leasing a 2021 Bentley Bentayga, which she flaunted on her Instagram, and renting a luxe Biscayne Bay apartment. She also used her ill-gotten gains to cover cosmetic procedures and refurbish her designer shoes. 

A June report by the Office of the Inspector General for the Small Business Administration, which oversaw the federal aid disbursement, found that 17% of the $1.2 trillion doled out in PPP and EIDL loans had been stolen through fraud schemes.