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Pizza parlor owner accused of using fraudulent PPP loan to buy farm, alpacas

Pizza parlor owner accused of using fraudulent PPP loan to buy farm, alpacas
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The Justice Department on Tuesday said that a Massachusetts pizza parlor owner was arrested and charged in connection to obtaining a fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan for his restaurant before selling the business and using the loan and subsequent proceeds to buy an alpaca farm in Vermont.

A news release from the department stated that 57-year-old Dana McIntyre was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison for each charge as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

"In the application, McIntyre allegedly inflated information about the pizzeria’s employees and payroll expenses and falsified an official tax form in an effort to qualify the business for a larger loan amount," the department said in the news release.

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"The complaint further alleges that, after receiving a PPP loan of over $660,000, McIntyre sold the pizzeria and used nearly all the funds for personal expenses, including to purchase and upgrade a farm in Vermont as well as to buy several alpacas," it continues.

McIntyre used other funds from the loan and sale of the business to purchase airtime to host a weekly radio show focused on cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, the Justice Department alleged.

Congress passed the PPP as part of the 2020 CARES Act, a COVID-19 relief package that provided an initial round of economic stimulus as the country faced lockdowns imposed to prevent the spread of the virus.

Since then, authorities have been battling fraud surrounding loans granted through the program.

In Florida, a man pleaded guilty in February to fraudulently receiving roughly $4 million in PPP loans and using them for personal expenses including the purchase of a Lamborghini sports car.