Fort Myers Business Owner Arrested And Charged With COVID Relief Fraud
Fort Myers, Florida – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the arrest and unsealing of a criminal complaint charging Casey David Crowther (35, Fort Myers) with making a false statement to a lending institution. If convicted, Crowther faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison.
According to the complaint, Crowther sought and received more than $2 million in a Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan through an application to an insured financial institution on behalf of his company, Target Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. Crowther submitted a loan application that included false and misleading statements concerning what the PPP funds would be used for, specifically that the PPP funds would only be used for business-related purposes, to retain workers, and maintain payroll or make mortgage payments, lease payments, and utilities payments.
The complaint further alleges that within days of receiving the PPP funds, Crowther used a portion of the funds to purchase a 2020 40-foot catamaran boat for approximately $689,417, which he registered in his name.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020. It is designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief provided by the CARES Act is the authorization of up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses through the PPP. In April 2020, Congress authorized over $300 billion in additional PPP funding.
The PPP allows qualifying small businesses and other organizations to receive loans with a maturity of two years and an interest rate of one percent. Businesses must use PPP loan proceeds for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. The PPP allows the interest and principal to be forgiven if the business spends the proceeds on these expenses within a set time period and use at least a certain percentage of the loan toward payroll expenses.
A criminal complaint is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case is being investigated by the United States Secret Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Trent Reichling.