The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida has announced charges against a Fort Myers roofing company owner accused of misusing the $2 million in loans he received from the federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP) that is meant to help American businesses that are economically impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Casey David Crowther, 35, was charged with making a false statement to a lending institution. It is unclear if he has acquired the services of an attorney.
According to the criminal complaint, Crowther is the president and owner of Target Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. He allegedly applied for $2,098,700 in PPP funding on behalf of the company. The complaint claims he included false and misleading statements concerning what his company would use the PPP funds for. He purportedly claimed he will use the money for business-related expenses, such as retaining workers, maintaining payroll, paying for utilities, and making mortgage and lease payments.
The PPP is a federal COVID-19 relief program authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was passed by Congress in March 2020. The loans, which are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA), are meant to provide immediate financial help for American businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The loans are exclusively for business-related expenses such as employee salaries, rent and utilities, and interest on mortgages.
Crowther’s loan application was approved and funded. A review of his business’ bank records reportedly showed that within days of receiving the funds, he used the money for personal expenses and not their intended purpose. Records show he purchased a 40-foot catamaran boat worth almost $700,000, which he registered under his name. The complaint is accusing him of knowingly making false statements related to the use of the PPP funds he received—an offense that is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
The Department of Justice has been cracking down on cases of fraud involving federal COVID-19 relief programs in recent weeks. In late July, a Miami man was arrested after he allegedly used PPP funds to purchase luxury items, including a Lamborghini. David Tyler Hines, 29, was charged with bank fraud, making false statements to a financial institution, and engaging in transactions in unlawful proceeds. He allegedly sought and received approximately $13.5 million in PPP funds to cover payroll for employees who purportedly did not exist or earned a fraction of what he claimed in his applications.
The allegations against Hines and Crowther aren’t unique; there are at least 40 criminal complaints filed in federal court accusing business owners all over the U.S. of attempting to defraud COVID-19 relief programs.
Florida business owners who are 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 or remove the potential penalties.
South Florida Fraud Defense Attorney
Are you accused of committing fraud involving federal COVID-19 relief programs in South Florida? Contact Brian Silber, P.A. to set up a free initial consultation with one of South Florida’s most experienced fraud defense attorneys.