A championship high school basketball coach in Fort Lauderdale has been arrested on charges of filing nearly $1 million in false claims for a coronavirus-related federal loan, prosecutors said Friday.
Williams is only the latest South Floridian to face charges of defrauding the COVID-19 relief program. South Florida prosecutors said Friday they have pursued 24 COVID-related criminal cases, resulting in charges against 32 people. The charges range from loan fraud to unemployment insurance fraud to theft, among other types of crimes.
Williams, 40, is accused of applying for and receiving a $984,710 loan on behalf of his company, Williams Consulting Group LLC, from the federal Payment Protection Program. The initiative, part of a federal COVID-19 relief package, set aside billions of dollars in small-business loans for Americans hit hard by the pandemic.
Williams, who made his initial court appearance Friday, couldn’t be reached for comment.
According to federal authorities, Williams claimed his company employed 67 people and had an average monthly payroll of $393,884. Federal officials, however, said the company had no employees recorded with the state, as it’s required to do.
After receiving the loan, Williams is accused of laundering most of the money through several different bank accounts. Additionally, his company also received unemployment insurance benefits, according to a federal complaint.
Williams also is being charged with making false statements to a financial institution and engaging in transactions in unlawful proceeds.
After receiving the federal aid, Williams opened various bank accounts and later used one of the accounts to make a $4,872.94 payment to Audi in Fort Lauderdale, an FBI agent wrote in court documents. Williams also transferred about $445,985 from one account under a Williams Consulting account at one bank to savings and checking accounts in his name at another bank, the agent wrote.
A Stranahan High alum, Williams has spent the past three years as the coach at his alma mater, compiling an overall record of 71-22. In March, he led the program to its second consecutive state title, earning Sun Sentinel Coach of the Year honors for the second time. Williams also was named Florida Dairy Farmers Coach of the Year for Class 4A.
Stranahan athletic director Thomas Harrison was unaware Williams had been charged and declined to comment on the matter.
Other COVID-19 fraud cases involving South Floridians have drawn attention in recent months. Among them: