“Everybody was doing it.” Miami agent sentenced to prison for PPP fraud

Daniela Rendon, who worked on luxury developments in Sunny Isles, faces 41 months in prison, three years probation

Miami Realtor Sentenced in PPP Fraud Case
Daniela Rendon (Instagram; Illustration by The Real Deal)

The Miami agent who the federal government said misused hundreds of thousands of dollars in pandemic relief money to lease her white Bentley Bentayga, rent a luxury apartment, refinish her designer shoes and have cosmetic procedures was sentenced to prison. 

Daniela Rendon was indicted in February on two counts of money laundering, seven counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. In April she pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. The other charges were dismissed. 

On Thursday, she was sentenced to three years and five months in prison, followed by three years of probation and ordered to pay nearly $200,000 in restitution. 

Rendon allegedly falsified her revenue, payroll and IRS tax forms on fraudulent applications for Covid-19 federal relief funds to the Small Business Administration and Paycheck Protection Program during the pandemic. 

She obtained two loans: a $371,290 PPP loan and a $10,000 SBA loan, according to the complaint prepared by U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Bailyn. She also falsely claimed to be a real estate developer. 

In her statement submitted on May 25, Rendon said her actions were “motivated by insatiable greed,” but that she vowed to spend the rest of her life tirelessly seeking redemption.

“Looking back, it becomes all too tempting to utter the words ‘everybody was doing it’ as a feeble attempt to rationalize my actions,” she wrote. 

Rendon, who previously posted to her then-33,000 followers on Instagram about luxury condo projects such as Estates at Acqualina, Mansions at Acqualina and Bentley Residences, switched to commercial real estate after the indictment. Her Instagram bio includes a link to office leasing at 44 West, formerly known as Courthouse Tower, near the courthouses in Miami.

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As head of Rendon PA, Rendon falsely stated that the company generated nearly $92 million in revenue between early 2019 and 2020 as a developer. At the time, she was really a sales associate earning biweekly checks of $2,000 for the Trump Group’s A3 Development, which recently developed Estates at Acqualina, according to the filing, which Rendon signed. 

Rendon’s fiancé Eliasib Reyes was also allegedly involved in the fraud. He was charged with three counts of wire fraud and four counts of money laundering, according to a complaint filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bailyn. Reyes is a finance manager at Braman Motors, according to the dealership’s website. He signed off on her lease of the Bentley SUV as a co-guarantor, a copy of the application included in the filings shows. 

Reyes’ sentencing is set for September. 

He allegedly used funds from PPP and Economic Injury Disaster loans in part to buy an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch (starting at more than $20,000), a Rolex Oystersteel and Everose Gold watch (more than $10,000), to fund his personal brokerage account and to pay his credit cards, according to the complaint.

Included in Rendon’s case are filings that show Reyes received a $685,000 mortgage to purchase a home near the Miami Design District for $725,000 in November. 

South Florida has seen more than its fair share of fraud and money laundering. 

This month, the former town attorney for Bay Harbor Islands pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud after allegedly orchestrating a nearly $7 million real estate scheme. Craig Sherman, town attorney for more than 40 years, admitted that he defrauded friends and clients through the scheme by securing investments for fake real estate projects planned in the town. Sherman, who is 80, could face up to 40 years in prison for the two counts of wire fraud, in addition to having to pay restitution. His sentencing hearing is set for later this year. 

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