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A Florida woman has been accused of using a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to pay a hitman to murder her rival.
Law enforcement officials in Miami say Jasmine Martinez, 33, used part of a $15,000 PPP loan to pay a hitman who allegedly shot and killed Le’Shonte Jones, 24, in front of her apartment home in May of 2021. Martinez reportedly withdrew $10,000 from her bank account only days before the shooting.
Stories of PPP loan fraud have peppered the news over the last two years, with most offenses being of the shopping spree variety and seemingly none as dastardly as this case.
Newly released court records show that the beauty salon owner used the funds to hire someone to kill Jones, a Miami federal airport officer.
According to The New York Times:
The woman, Jasmine Martinez, 33, received the loan on April 20, 2021, two weeks before a man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt shot Le’Shonte Jones to death as she walked to her apartment building with her 3-year-old daughter, the Miami-Dade police said in an arrest warrant dated Feb. 9. Ms. Martinez made withdrawals from her bank account totaling more than $10,000 in the days before the killing, the police said.
The police arrested Ms. Martinez and Romiel Robinson, a man Ms. Martinez was in a romantic relationship with, on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the killing of Ms. Jones, 24, a Transportation Security Administration employee at Miami International Airport, according to arrest warrants in the case
In a separate arrest, police are holding Javon Carter, an ex-con who they believe to be the hired killer. He is charged with first-degree murder as well as the attempted murder of Jones’s daughter who was reportedly grazed by bullets during the shooting, The New York Times reported.
Police discovered a video on Carter’s cellphone that shows him counting a large sum of money just hours after Jones’s death as he says, “just another day in the office,” according to an arrest warrant.
When police arrived at the scene, they discovered Ms. Jones and her daughter with “multiple gunshot wounds” outside their apartment building. Jones was declared dead at the scene while her daughter was airlifted to an area hospital. Surveillance footage showed the two walking to Jones’s apartment when a man identified as Carter exits a grey Nissan Sentra and proceeds to fire at them with a semiautomatic pistol.
Authorities believe the contract killing was the culmination of a years-long feud between the two women, but the brazen murder in broad daylight still rocked the community.
In May of 2018, police investigating an unrelated matter witnessed Martinez attack Jones and punch her in the face. Martinez was summarily arrested for battery.
While testifying in that very case, Jones was punched and had her cellphone and other belongings stolen as she walked from the courthouse to her car. The police arrested Kelly Nelson for armed robbery in that instance. Nelson was believed to be dating Martinez at the time.
Then in March of 2021, Jones reported that she was offered a bribe not to testify in the armed robbery case and was further harassed by Martinez who demanded she tell prosecutors that Nelson was not armed when he robbed her.
Nevertheless, Jones continued to cooperate with police and described the harassment in a deposition dated April 9, just weeks before she was killed.
It was unclear whether Martinez owned a business or how she was able to obtain a PPP loan. Martinez’s lawyer, Fallon Zirpoli, released a statement Tuesday in which he professed her client’s innocence. “[Martinez] has always denied any involvement in this tragedy since the first time law enforcement approached her last summer,” Zirpoli reportedly said.
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