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Brooklyn lawyer cuffed for swindling $287,000 in COVID-related business loans

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A Brooklyn lawyer is facing charges for allegedly swindling $287,000 meant to help business owners pay their employees during the pandemic. 

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced the charges against 59-year-old defense attorney Jamie Burke, after she allegedly lied on the Federal Paycheck Protection Payment and Small Business Administration loan applications, and used the money to finance her gambling habit.

“This defendant is a member of the bar and swore an oath to uphold the law. Sadly, she now stands accused of swindling more than $280,000 in PPP and SBA loans to line her own pockets,” Katz said in a statement. “These programs were created to help struggling business owners stay afloat and their workers employed during these unprecedented times. This defendant now faces very serious charges for her alleged actions.” 

Prosecutors alleged that Burke requested a loan from the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster program in August 2020, stating that she was the sole owner of Rojo Realty, a real estate shop in Queens that allegedly had 12 employees and gross revenue totaling $890,500 for the previous 12 months. A short while later, the loan was granted, and she received a check from SBA totaling $149,900.

According to prosecutors, Burke also signed a false PPP loan application that allegedly claimed her real estate business had 10 employees, with a monthly payroll of $55,000. That loan application was also approved in August 2020, and she was given $137,500 via a direct deposit into her bank account. 

That brought the total amount of loans to $287,400, which were granted on the condition that she used the funds “for the business operation, worker retention, payroll and/or to make mortgage, lease and utility payments for the company.”

Instead, though, Burke allegedly misused that money, including spending $80,000 on placing bets at various gambling establishments.

Burke was arraigned on Dec. 15 before Queens Judge Denise Johnson on two counts of grand larceny in the second degree and one count of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree. 

If convicted, the defendant faces up to 15 years in prison.

“I commend the NYPD investigators and Queens District Attorney prosecutors whose efforts resulted in this arrest,” said NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea. “We will continue to work to ensure that this person is brought to justice.”

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