The Perfect Enemy | Duo sentenced in Cleveland for $24 million federal coronavirus relief fund scheme - cleveland.com
May 27, 2022

Duo sentenced in Cleveland for $24 million federal coronavirus relief fund scheme – cleveland.com

Duo sentenced in Cleveland for $24 million federal coronavirus relief fund scheme  cleveland.com

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CLEVELAND, Ohio— A judge sentenced two Florida men to years in federal prison for leading a conspiracy to submit dozens of fake loan applications for $24 million in federal coronavirus relief funds.

U.S. District Judge Pamela Barker sentenced Philip Augustin to 6.5 years in prison and James Stote, of Hollywood, Florida, one of Augustin’s partners, to 10 years in prison.

Stote, 56, was ordered to pay $10.1 million in restitution and forfeit $1.1 million from his bank account, four Rolex watches and jewelry valued at more than $40,000 that FBI agents seized from his home.

Augustin, 53, of Coral Springs Florida, owned Clear Vision Music Group, a Florida talent agency that managed pro football players. Augustin was ordered to pay $5.9 million in restitution and forfeit $280,000 seized from his bank account.

Both previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Stote’s attorney David Magilligan declined comment. Augustin’s attorney Michael Greico said he was happy with the sentencing and that his client— a U.S. Army veteran— is looking forward to serving his time and getting back to being a father and grandfather.

“I’m proud of him for taking responsibility in this case and I’m happy that the judge took everything into account during the sentencing,” Grieco said.

Augustin, Stote and 17 others— including a father-son duo from Cuyahoga County— were charged in the conspiracy.

Together, they submitted more than 90 applications for federal CARES Act money specifically earmarked to help keep small business and their employees afloat during the pandemic.

Augustin spearheaded the scheme. He filed for and received an $84,515 loan based on fake information he put in the loan application, and later developed a template for others to do the same.

He recruited several business contacts, including former New York Jets wide receiver Joshua Bellamy and father-son duo Deon and Abdul-Azeem Levy of Cleveland and Bedford, to file fake claims and send him kickbacks, according to court records.

During a six-week span, Augustin was paid more than $900,000 in kickbacks, according to prosecutors.

Abdul-Azeem Levy applied for a $554,232 loan while using the personal information of the owner Apex Now Corp., a construction company in Solon, according to court records.

An FBI agent posing as bank investigators met with Abdul-Azeem Levy on June 5, 2020 to discuss the loan. While he was inside the bank, another FBI agent approached Deon Levy, who admitted he instructed his son how to conduct the scheme, court records say. Both were arrested and charged in 2020, but have not yet been indicted in the case.