Fort Myers Business Owner Indicted For COVID Relief Fraud | USAO-MDFL

Fort Myers, Florida – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the return of an indictment charging Casey David Crowther (35, North Fort Myers) with one count of bank fraud, one count of making a false statement to a lending institution, and two counts of illegal monetary transactions. If convicted, Crowther faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison for the bank fraud count and the false statement count and up to 10 years in federal prison for each illegal monetary transaction count. The indictment also notifies Crowther that the United States intends to forfeit a 2020 40-foot catamaran and $2,098,700, which are alleged proceeds of the offense.

 According to the indictment, beginning in or about April 2020, Crowther submitted a false and fraudulent Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan application and revised PPP loan application to an insured financial institution on behalf of his company, Target Roofing and Sheet Metal, Inc. Specifically, Crowther falsely represented that the PPP funds would only be used for business-related purposes, and he falsely certified that the funds would be used to retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage payments, lease payments, and utility payments on behalf of Target Roofing. These materially false, fraudulent, and misleading representations caused the Small Business Administration (SBA) to approve the PPP application and issue $2,098,700 in PPP funds. Crowther then unlawfully used the funds to wire $689,417 for the purchase of a 2020 40-foot catamaran boat and $100,000 in connection with a $722,474 promissory note.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a federal law enacted March 2020. It is designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief provided by the CARES Act is the authorization of up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses through the PPP. In April 2020, Congress authorized over $300 billion in additional PPP funding.

The PPP allows qualifying small businesses and other organizations to receive loans with a maturity of two years and an interest rate of one percent. Businesses must use PPP loan proceeds for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. The PPP allows the interest and principal to be forgiven if the business spends the proceeds on these expenses within a set time period and uses at least a certain percentage of the loan toward payroll expenses.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty. 

This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Trent Reichling.

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