Federal government to investigate P3 loan fraud
FORT MYERS, Fla .– Over the past year and a half, billions of taxpayer dollars have been sent to struggling businesses at the height of the pandemic.
The US government has good reason to believe that all was not legitimate.
More than 900,000 businesses in Florida alone have requested money from the paycheck protection program known as PPP.
A number of businesses like the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater in Fort Myers have been able to secure a P3 loan to keep their doors open and keep people working.
The federal government has said that not all businesses get loans so frankly.
Will Prather, owner of Broadway Palm, said he was not sure he could have stayed in business without the PPP loan. He called it a big lifeline for his business.
Last May, his scenes were dark. The future was uncertain, then his PPP loan arrived.
“This has allowed me to keep a large majority of my management team employed,” said Prather.
But not everyone spent the money the way they did.
“It’s disheartening to see that this is happening not only nationally, but also in high profile cases right here in Southwest Florida,” Prather said.
Casey Crowther was the owner of Target Roofing. He received $ 2.1 million in PPP. Crowther used it to buy a $ 700,000 catamaran and a lavish lifestyle.
He will be sentenced next month and faces 40 years in prison.
Lawyer Michael Hornung believes that in Crowther’s case, someone probably reported his abuse of the system.
A special inspector general hired to investigate cases like Crowther’s also found that Miami’s David Hines had received nearly $ 4 million in P3 funds and used a large part of it to buy a Lamborghini.
“The government now with a new Inspector General who has been appointed, I think for now they are going to go down and just like the tax returns, they are going to check some people in certain places here in the state of Florida,” he said. declared Hornung.
Suggesting that they will likely find even more frauds in Florida and elsewhere.
But those like Will Prather who spent it right have already had their loans canceled and are closer to getting back to normal.
“We have fat production that we’re going to run through July and early August,” noted Prather.
If you know someone or suspect that someone has abused the PPP loan program, please call the Inspector General’s office at 202-927-7899