Florida man accused of misusing $2M coronavirus small business loan to buy boat
A business owner in Fort Myers, Fla., was charged with fraudulently acquiring $2 million in COVID-19 relief funds through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and using nearly $700,000 of it to buy a 40-foot boat.
According to the complaint, Casey David Crowther, 35, made false and misleading statements to a lending institution in April on behalf of his company, Target Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc., in order to obtain the loan.
Crowther allegedly used approximately $689,417 of the funds to purchase a 2020 40-foot catamaran boat and registered it under his name.
Prosecutors say that $126,000 was transferred to another of Crowther’s business checking accounts, $100,000 was wired to a bank account of a former company stakeholder who resigned Dec. 31, 2019, and $3,300 was transferred to a joint checking account Crowther holds with his wife.
The remaining $1,179,963 was transferred to another business account in May, and Crowther later closed the account he used to obtain the loan.
If convicted, Crowther faces up to 30 years in federal prison.
The PPP was created through the March coronavirus relief bill to provide loans to struggling small businesses that could be entirely forgiven if used to pay employees and keep business afloat.
Crowther is one of several business owners who have been charged by federal prosecutors for obtaining PPP loans fraudulently.
Democrats on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis said this week that more than $3 billion in loans issued through the coronavirus emergency relief program for small businesses may have gone to firms that already received support or should have been excluded from the program.