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Fort Myers Businessman Sentenced To Three Years In Federal Prison For COVID Relief Fraud And Mortgage Fraud
Senior U.S. District Judge John Steele has sentenced Casey David Crowther (35, Fort Myers) to three years and one month in federal prison for two counts of bank fraud, two counts of making a false statement to a lending institution, and two counts of money laundering. The court also ordered Crowther to forfeit $2,739,081.21, $630,482.37, and a 40’ catamaran boat, which were the proceeds of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud and the mortgage fraud offenses.
At trial, a federal jury had found Crowther guilty of committing bank fraud, making a false statement to a lending institution, and two counts of money laundering on March 26, 2021, which were related to a PPP fraud scheme. Before the trial started, Crowther pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of making a false statement to a financial institution, which were related to a mortgage fraud scheme. As part of the mortgage fraud scheme, Crowther created false bank statements to justify a loan he had used to purchase a nearly $1.3 million waterfront house in St. James City, Florida.
According to evidence at the trial, Crowther obtained a $2.1 million PPP loan by falsely stating that he had intended to use the money to make payroll and pay rent and utilities for his company Target Roofing and Sheet Metal, Inc. However, Crowther intended to use the money to enrich himself and, once the loan was obtained, quickly used the proceeds to make a series of personal purchases including a nearly $700,000 boat and a $100,000 payment to a former business partner. Crowther concealed the scheme by providing false explanations for the expenditures to his bank, calling the boat “equipment” and the payment to his former partner “payroll.” Under the terms of the PPP program, Crowther did not have to pay back the loan if he used at least 60% of the proceeds on payroll. To falsely make it appear he met that threshold, Crowther created dozens of fake employees to whom he purportedly paid wages: by adding multiple family members to his company’s payroll, even though they did not actually perform work; and, separately, by creating 39 other fake employees, for whom he obtained fake identification documents -- including Social Security cards -- that he provided to his company’s Human Resources to be placed in the files of the “employees.”
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Trent Reichling and Michael V. Leeman. Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Nebesky obtained the forfeitures.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form
[Source: DOJ, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida, 01Jul21]
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