Florida Contractor Charged With PPP Fraud

And he might have gotten away with it, too...

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When the Paycheck Protection Program was announced as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act, it was intended to serve as a lifeline to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. And while these loans have undoubtedly done a great amount of good for small businesses and the economy at large, it also has become clear that not everyone is applying for and using these loans in good faith.

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One such incident allegedly occurred in early September. A contractor from Fort Myers, Fla. was arrested and charged with attempting to defraud the PPP by submitting false and misleading information to a lending institution. According to the complaint, Casey David Crowther, owner of Target Roofing and Sheet Metal, sought and received more than $2 million through a PPP loan meant for business expenses, like maintaining his company’s payroll and making lease and utility payments.

Instead, days after receiving the funds, Crowther bought a boat. And not just any boat, either. He allegedly bought a 40-foot catamaran that cost approximately $689,417 and registered it in his name.

Inevitably, that kind of exorbitant purchase raised serious alarms and quickly led to Crowther’s arrest. The Secret Service is investigating, and Crowther faces up to 30 years in prison if he is convicted of the charges against him.

Unfortunately, Crowther is not the only contractor in hot water for alleged PPP fraud. Kyle Brenziner or St. Paul, Minn., was arrested in late August and charged with wire fraud and money laundering in relation to a PPP scheme. Breniziner allegedly submitted false employee and tax information to receive a PPP loan for his business, then put the money in a bank account unrelated to his business.

The construction industry is not the only one facing cases of PPP fraud, either. According to NBC News, a congressional investigation found that companies fraudulently “double dipped” and received multiple Paycheck Protection Program loans totaling more than $1 billion in emergency coronavirus aid relief.

A report from the congressional subcommittee monitoring the coronavirus crisis confirmed there is “a high risk that PPP loans may have been diverted from small businesses truly in need to ineligible businesses or even to criminals.”