Eastern District of Louisiana
NEW ORLEANS - CYNTHIA CARONNA, a resident of Jefferson Parish, pleaded guilty on August 22, 2023, to a bill of information for conspiring with her co-defendant, Frank LaBruzzo, and with a resident of the United Kingdom to defraud a business seeking to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, announced U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans.
CARONNA and the UK resident formed a business venture to offer the sale of PPE, and selected LaBruzzo to serve as the venture’s escrow agent. LaBruzzo ( an attorney employed as an investigator with the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office) was presented to would-be buyers of PPE as a trustworthy escrow agent who would safeguard purchase funds in an escrow account until the PPE was satisfactorily delivered.
According to court records, the conspirators agreed that LaBruzzo would disburse the would-be buyer’s funds despite the would-be buyers having neither received PPE nor consented to the disbursements. The conspirators also agreed that each would receive portions of the would-be buyer’s funds without the would-be buyers’ knowledge or consent.
U.S. District Judge Greg G. Guidry scheduled CARONNA’s sentencing for November 28, 2023. Conspiracy is punishable by up to five years imprisonment followed by up to three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000, and a mandatory $100 special assessment fee.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form
U.S. Attorney Evans reiterated that the bill of information is merely a charge and that the defendant’s guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chandra Menon of the Public Integrity Unit is in charge of the prosecution.
Shane M. Jones
Public Information Officer
United States Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana
United States Department of JusticeFor Immediate ReleaseContactTopics