MIAMI -- In one of the country’s largest coronavirus relief schemes, South Florida rapper and reality star Diamond Blue Smith has been charged and accused of pocketing more than $1 million from a federal loan program for struggling businesses and buying a $96,000 Ferrari with the proceeds.
Smith, 36, a cast member on Love & Hip Hop: Miami and a member of the group Pretty Ricky, was arrested this week along with a Pennsylvania tow truck operator for their roles in a $24 million COVID-19 relief fraud scheme.
Smith and Johnson both face federal charges of wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud in the Southern District of Florida. Smith could not be immediately reached for comment.
Eleven other defendants have also been charged in the alleged racket centered in South Florida to bilk the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program approved by Congress as part of the CARES Act. It is meant to help businesses struggling from the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Federal prosecutors in Miami allege that Smith, also known as “Baby Blue,” obtained $427,000 in a PPP loan through his company, Throwbackjersey.com, by falsifying documents for the SBA loan. A bank approved the loan, which is guaranteed by the SBA. He also allegedly obtain another loan of $708,00 through another company, Blue Star Records LLC.
The FBI’s investigation revealed Smith was allegedly part of a broader scheme involving others who helped filed for the coronavirus relief funds while taking kickbacks.
--By Jay Weaver, Miami Herald (TNS)
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