A Nevada man is accused of fraudulently obtaining approximately $500,000 from federal coronavirus (COVID-19) relief programs and then laundering the money through friends and family so that he could buy a $400,000 house.
Brandon Casutt, 49, of Henderson is charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements to a financial institution, concealment money laundering, and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions. Attorney information was not available.
According to the criminal complaint, the defendant is accused of perpetrating a scheme to submit fraudulent loan applications to the Payment Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. The PPP and the EIDL are federal COVID-19 relief programs authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was passed by Congress in March 2020. The loans, which are serviced by federally insured banks and guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA), are meant to provide emergency financial assistance to American businesses struggling with the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
He allegedly filed two PPP loan applications for approximately $350,000 for a business called Sky DeSign, as well as an EIDL loan for approximately $150,000 for a charity called Skyler’s C.F. Foundation, which is supposedly devoted to raising awareness about cystic fibrosis. The loan applications reportedly indicated that both entities had several employees, significant payroll expenses, and substantial annual revenue. However, records show that neither entity has employees nor pays any salaries, the complaint claims. For example, the charity foundation reportedly had nowhere near the $600,000 revenue last year that he listed on the EIDL loan application.
All of the defendant’s loans were approved and funded. He allegedly laundered the funds by writing checks to two dozen different people—friends, associates, family members, and himself—each in the amount of an estimated $8,300 with “pandemic pay” and “back pay” written in their’ memo lines. He then had the funds diverted to a bank account under the name of the charity foundation and used them, along with the EIDL funds, to buy a $400,000 home in Henderson. He and his family moved into the house at the end of June 2020, sources indicate.
PPP loans have reportedly helped more than five million small businesses by providing them with a much needed lifeline during the coronavirus crisis. While the majority of business owners who applied for loans have used the money for its intended purpose, there are reports of more than three dozen incidents of fraud involving the program. To date, the Justice Department has filed 39 fraud cases involving the program, charging around 58 defendants. A majority of the loans proceeds in those cases have already been successfully recovered through seizures and frozen bank accounts, officials said.
Anyone suspected of committing fraud related to federal COVID-19 relief programs should immediately consult an experienced fraud defense attorney. A good attorney can examine the evidence, conduct an independent investigation, and determine the best course of action to minimize the potential penalties.
South Florida Fraud Defense Attorney
Are you accused of committing fraud in South Florida involving federal COVID-19 relief programs? Contact Brian Silber, P.A. to set up a free initial consultation with one of South Florida’s most experienced fraud defense attorneys.