San Francisco woman who posed as a lawyer and stole over $300,000 sentenced to 18 months

SF Gate reports

A San Francisco woman who stole over $300,000 in coronavirus relief funds and posed as a lawyer by using the identities of actual lawyers, paying their bar dues and even appearing in court, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Miranda Devlin, 37, pleaded guilty to multiple crimes from 2012 to 2020, including defrauding individuals and illegally obtaining $368,800 in funds from the Small Business Administration, according to the Department of Justice. 

The scheme involved stealing the identities of two licensed female attorneys also named Miranda, paying their dues without their knowledge to keep their licenses active, and representing defendants in Marin County Superior Court, including accused molesters.

Devlin was also charged with mail fraud after submitting a change-of-address form for one of the lawyers so their bar license card would be mailed to her. The Marin Independent Journal reports that Devlin was previously denied a California law license after the state bar determined she “lacked the requisite moral character” and had previously been sentenced to two years in prison for unnamed crimes 20 years ago.

In addition, the Department of Justice says Devlin created a shell company to apply for and receive multiple Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans during the pandemic.

In sentencing on Wednesday, Devlin was also ordered to pay $565,355 in restitution.

Defense attorney Mark Goldrosen said in the sentencing memorandum that Devlin is “extremely remorseful” for her actions.

DOJ Press Release
San Francisco Woman Sentenced To 18 Months For Pandemic Relief Loan Fraud And Impersonating Attorneys
Defendant Fraudulently Obtained Federal Coronavirus Relief Funds And, Separately, Represented Clients In State Courts By Assuming Stolen Identities of Attorneys

SAN FRANCISCO – Miranda Devlin, aka Miranda M., aka Miranda P., was sentenced today in United States District Court to 18 months in federal prison for making false statements in a loan application for federal government pandemic relief funds and for mail fraud involving the stealing of California attorneys’ identities and practicing law, announced Acting United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair, and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George.  The sentence was handed down by United States District Judge Maxine M. Chesney.

Devlin, 37, of San Francisco, pleaded guilty on July 21, 2021.  In her plea agreement, Devlin described multiple crimes she committed from March 2012 through May 2020 to defraud individuals and the government.  In one of her schemes, Devlin – who has never been an attorney – admitted she stole the identities of two female attorneys licensed by the State Bar of California and deceived people into believing she was a licensed attorney.  Beginning in 2012, Devlin started to assume attorneys’ names and used their license numbers.  She even paid one attorney’s State Bar dues, without knowledge of the attorney, to keep the attorney’s license active.  Devlin further admitted to submitting change of address requests to the U.S. Postal Service in order to have other people’s mail forwarded to her, including one attorney’s State Bar license card.  Several people hired Devlin as their attorney.  Devlin admitted she represented multiple individuals in the courtrooms of Bay Area county Superior Courts.

Devlin further admitted engaging in a scheme to defraud the federal government’s pandemic relief program of $368,800.  To commit one fraud, Devlin submitted a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrower application form requesting money from the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) program. The PPP arose out of the CARES Act passed by Congress in March 2020 that authorized forgivable PPP loans to small businesses, to promote job retention and cover specified business expenses during the pandemic.  Devlin’s PPP application contained several deliberately false statements that Devlin certified as true.  Her statements included that she had a business named Common Nucleus of Cancer (CNC) and that it had 2019 payroll expenses and also had paid taxes in 2019.  CNC was, however, only a shell company.  In her plea agreement, Devlin admitted that CNC had no employees and no business expenses.  Devlin admitted that with her PPP loan application she submitted false tax forms and records for 2019 as evidence of the salaries and business expenses she purportedly paid.  As a result of that application, Devlin received a PPP loan of $32,700.  Devlin admitted that she did not pay any purported business expenses or salaries with that money but rather used it for her own personal benefit.

Devlin further admitted that she continued the scheme and applied for and eventually received a larger, additional loan in the amount of $336,100 from the SBA.  In all, Devlin admitted that she unlawfully received a total of $368,800 from the SBA in government pandemic relief loans.

In addition to her 18 month prison sentence imposed for mail fraud in violation of 18 USC § 1341 and making false statements in a loan application in violation of 18 USC § 1014,  United District Judge Maxine M. Chesney ordered that Devlin pay restitution in the amount of $565,355.  The sentence also included a 5 year period of supervision following Devlin’s release from prison.

Devlin has been in custody since March 2, 2021, and begins her sentence immediately.

The United States Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Section prosecuted the case.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).