Florida business owner guilty of $ 2 million in coronavirus relief fraud
The Florida man bought a catamaran with coronavirus relief funds.
A Florida business owner has been convicted of illegally receiving more than $ 2 million in coronavirus relief funds.
A federal jury in Fort Myers has found Casey David Crowther, 35, guilty on Friday of bank fraud, of having made a false declaration to a credit institution and of two counts of money laundering, according to court records. A sentencing date has not been set.
Crowther applied for a loan last April on behalf of his company, Target Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc., according to a criminal complaint. Prosecutors said he claimed the funds would only be used for business purposes, such as worker retention and bill payment.
But shortly after receiving the $ 2.1 million cash, Crowther made a series of personal purchases, including nearly $ 690,000 on a 2020 40-foot (12-meter) catamaran, which he owned. registered in his name, according to the complaint. He also paid $ 100,000 to a former business partner.
Crowther covered up the scheme by providing false explanations for the expenses to his bank, prosecutors said. He added several family members to his company’s payroll who didn’t actually do any work and created 39 bogus employees, officials said.
The Paycheque Protection Program represents billions of dollars in repayable small business loans for Americans struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which became federal law in March.
Republished with permission from The Associated Press.