By Jay Weaver, Miami Herald (via TNS).
A Broward County, Florida, man convicted of buying a Lamborghini and other luxury goods with $2 million in U.S. government loans meant for struggling businesses during the pandemic was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison and ordered to pay back the money.
Valesky Barosy, 28, who dropped out of high school and became president of a company known as VBarosySolutions Inc., was found guilty in December of wire fraud, money laundering and identity theft by a Fort Lauderdale federal jury in a rare COVID-19 loan scheme case that went to trial.
For various loan applications totaling more than $4 million, Barosy fabricated prior-year business expenses, net profits, and employee payrolls, and submitted bogus IRS tax forms to secure the payments for himself and other people, according to an indictment and trial evidence. He then used the tainted money to buy the Lamborghini, fancy watches and designer clothes.
Barosy’s defense attorney, Omar Lopez, tried to downplay the “sophisticated, complex and intricate” nature of his scheme to rip off the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program — factors that affected his punishment before U.S. District Judge Rodney Smith. Lopez noted that the PPP loans were processed by a bank, and Barosy received the proceeds either directly into his account or as commissions from other applicants whom he represented in the scheme.
“All that it took was the issuing of subpoenas [by federal agents] to the bank that did business with Mr. Barosy,” Lopez wrote in court papers. “Once the government received the bank records, it was evident that Mr. Barosy received wire transfers from the individuals who received PPP loans and then used that money to purchase watches, make a down payment on a sports car and purchase luxury handbags.”
Barosy showed off his exploits while stealing from the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, posting social media shots of himself driving an exotic Lamborghini and flying on a private jet. He boasted an Instagram account with over 110,000 followers.
He touted himself as an immigrant success story, arriving from Haiti a decade ago, working his way up from a menial job at Walmart to “regional vice president” of a credit repair company that purportedly racked up “$3.6 million in sales,” according to court records. He also started his own exotic car washing business, records show.
On Instagram, Barosy posed often with the white Lambo, pitching himself as an inspiring mentor. “It’s not the Lamborghini or the million dollar home that will inspire the world but the trials and tribulations you overcame,” Barosy, who was born in Haiti and immigrated to South Florida as a teen, wrote in one post.
But in reality, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, Barosy was fleecing taxpayers — fraudulently securing $2 million in loans from the PPP system to buy classic Miami status symbols: a Lamborghini Huracán EVO, Rolex and Hublot watches, and designer clothing from Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel. The U.S. will seize those items.
The Paycheck Protection Program was approved by Congress in 2020 to help businesses decimated following shutdowns caused by the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus. The program allowed for the loans to be forgiven, if borrowers followed criteria laid out by the Small Business Administration. Hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency loans were distributed during the pandemic, but fraud quickly surfaced as a serious problem across the country.
As the nation’s No. 1 fraud capital, South Florida has led the financial crime wave that followed the passage of the CARES Act, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In South Florida, that’s included a businessman using PPP money to buy a $318,000 Lamborghini, a nurse alleged to have lied about his business to get $474,000 that was used in part to pay a Mercedes-Benz lease and child support, and a North Miami suburban couple that claimed to be farmers to qualify for $1 million in relief benefits.
Around the same time that Barosy was arrested in December 2021, two Florida men pleaded guilty to helping arrange over $35 million in PPP loans. The ring also netted the conviction of former NFL player Joshua Bellamy, who was sentenced to more than three years in prison for wire-fraud conspiracy.