Shady real estate company may have scammed $ 287,000 in COVID aid

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Last year, Jamie Burke appeared to be one of tens of thousands of New Yorkers desperate for COVID relief money. She owns a small real estate company, Rojo Realty, in St. Albans, a suburb of Queens, and said in an application to the Federal Paycheck Protection Program that she needed help with making monthly payroll. $ 55,000 for its ten employees. It sounded like exactly the kind of situation P3 loans were designed for: a small business that needed a little help to stay afloat. Burke’s request was approved and she received $ 137,000. But Burke paid no wages, according to the Queens District Attorney. In fact, judging by the company’s one-page website which offers little information about the company and nothing about who works there, Burke might have no employees – or companies – in the business. all. Woman who picked up the number listed on Rojo’s aftermarket website (active listings: zero) insisted it was the wrong number and had nothing to do with the business ; instead of an office building for company employees, the address listed on the loan application is a Tudor-style red brick house.

On Wednesday, the 59-year-old woman became the latest New Yorker to be charged with criminal charges – in her case, robbery and filing false papers – for allegedly embezzling COVID relief funds. But Burke didn’t just try to take advantage of the P3 program – she also used Rojo Realty to secure another $ 150,000 loan through the town’s Small Business Administration. In that request, she said the company had a dozen employees and said “the current economic uncertainty” made the loan request necessary to keep the business going. Burke even reported that in the previous 12 months, Rojo had earned $ 890,500, although the company’s website doesn’t list a single deal they’ve made. According to the Queens DA, Burke would have played most of the money at New York and New Jersey casinos.

Investigators have looked at Burke’s bank records and say her statements show that not only did she not spend a single dime to support her alleged employees and businesses, but that $ 80,000 of the $ 287,000 in loans was spent on make bets. (Burke’s attorney made no comment.) She has certified that the information she provided in the loan applications is “true and correct,” and if false, could be subject to a 5 to 30 years in prison. But Queens prosecutors say Burke faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.


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