Man pleads guilty to stealing $24 million in COVID relief

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man on Tuesday pleaded guilty to stealing $24 million in COVID-19 relief money by using fake identities and shell companies to fraudulently apply for financial assistance, federal prosecutors said.

Hasan Hakim Brown, 45, pleaded guilty to a count of conspiring to commit bank fraud. He is facing up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced in September.

According to federal prosecutors in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Brown and his co-conspirators used fake identities and shell companies to fraudulently apply for financial assistance from the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

The money was paid to companies registered to Brown and his co-conspirators, as well as to companies registered to fake identities that Brown and his co-conspirators controlled, federal prosecutors said.

Federal prosecutor said Brown and his colleagues had previously used the fake and stolen identities, and associated bank accounts and shell companies, to steal money from a bank in Texas.

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