Naples Felon Indicted For COVID Relief Fraud
Fort Myers, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces the return of an indictment charging Daniel Joseph Tisone (34, Naples) with wire fraud, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, illegal monetary transactions, and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. If convicted, Tisone faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison for each wire fraud count (4 counts) and bank fraud count (6 counts), a 2-year minimum mandatory term of imprisonment for the aggravated identity theft counts (2 counts), up to 10 years in federal prison for each illegal monetary transaction count (5 counts) and for the possession of ammunition count. The indictment also notifies Tisone that the United States intends to forfeit his interest in a 2019 Tiara 34LS boat, two real properties located in Naples, a 4.02 carat solitaire engagement ring, approximately $65,645.69 seized from two bank accounts, and approximately $2,617,447.17, which are alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the offense.
According to court documents, between March 2020 and April 2021, Tisone, a convicted felon, submitted false and fraudulent Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), Main Street Lending Program (MSLP), and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan applications to the Small Business Administration, as well as PPP and MSLP approved lenders. The loan applications contained numerous false representations, including the criminal history, average monthly payroll, number of employees, and gross revenues of the applicant, Tisone.
In support of the fraudulent EIDL, PPP, and MSLP applications, Tisone submitted false and fictitious payroll and tax documents, as well as a fake commercial lease. Further, Tisone fraudulently used the means of identification of individuals who purported to work for Tisone’s companies, including their names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers, to submit false and fraudulent payroll and payroll tax documents. Tisone also fraudulently used the means of identification of an individual, including the individual’s name, date of birth, driver license, and Social Security number, to submit a false and fraudulent EIDL application.
Tisone’s false and fraudulent representations caused the SBA, PPP, and MSLP lenders to approve and fund one MSLP, four EIDL, and five PPP loans, resulting in the deposit of more than $2.6 million into bank accounts Tisone controlled. Tisone then unlawfully used the funds for unauthorized purposes and for his own personal enrichment, including the purchase of residences in Naples, stocks and investment securities, and ammunition.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a federal law enacted March 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 uses at least a certain percentage of the loan toward payroll expenses.
The EIDL program is designed to provide economic relief to small businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. EIDL proceeds can be used to cover a wide array of working capital and normal operating expenses, such as continuation of health care benefits, rent, utilities, and fixed debt payments. If an applicant also obtains a loan under the PPP, the EIDL funds cannot be used for the same purpose as the PPP funds.
The MSLP was designed to provide support to small and medium-sized businesses and their employees across the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program was intended to help companies, that were in sound financial condition prior to the onset of the pandemic, maintain their operations and payroll until conditions normalized.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the FBI, the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR), Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and the Office of Inspector General for the Federal Reserve Board. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Trent Reichling and Suzanne Nebesky.