Local Man Admits $ 1.9 Million PPP Scam and Ordered to Return Cars and Jewelry | Business Observer

DADE CITY – Pasco County resident admitted being accused of misusing nearly $ 2 million in federal P3 loans, including purchase of a 2020 Mercedes and Ford F-250 truck 2020.

Keith Nicoletta, 48, of Dade City, has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to launder stolen COVID relief funds, according to a statement from the U.S. prosecutor’s office in Tampa. Nicoletta also agreed to confiscate more than $ 1.9 million, the two vehicles, property located in Pasco County and other funds and assets that are traceable proceeds of the offense, authorities said.

According to the plea deal, in May, Nicoletta and her conspirators stole more than $ 1.9 million in emergency loan funds from the Paycheck Protection Program, which was guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. The fraudulent PPP loan application claimed that the local Nicoletta business had 69 employees with a monthly payroll supposedly over $ 760,000, or more than $ 9 million a year, officials said. “In fact, the company had no employees and its address was in fact Nicoletta’s home,” the statement read.

Once the emergency loan was obtained, the PPP funds were not used for eligible expenses. Instead, the conspirators immediately started laundering the money through several different financial institutions. Nicoletta also withdrew more than $ 100,000 in cash, the statement said. In October, more than $ 40,000 in cash was recovered in a search of Nicoletta’s home.

“After laundering the PPP funds, Nicoletta spent lavishly, including purchasing a 2020 Mercedes for over $ 100,000, a 2020 Ford F-250 special edition pickup valued at over $ 66,000, jewelry and the installation of a swimming pool at his home costing approximately $ 63,000, ”the statement said. “However, none of the money was used for payroll, as Congress intended.”

Nicoletta faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison

Nicoletta is at least the second person in the region that federal authorities have accused of allegedly misusing P3 loan funds. In early September, President of Target Roofing & Sheet Metal Inc. Casey David Crowther, of Fort Myers, was accused of using federal coronavirus relief funds for personal gain, including the purchase of a boat from 40 feet for nearly $ 700,000. Crowther requested and received a loan of $ 2,098,700 under the federal wage protection program, according to the criminal complaint in that case.

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