Florida man pleads guilty to $2.6 million COVID-19 relief fraud

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $2.6 million in COVID-19 relief funds.

Daniel Joseph Tisone, 35, of Naples, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Fort Myers to wire fraud, bank fraud, illegal money transaction and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, according to court documents. He faces up to 60 years in federal prison at a hearing scheduled for December 5.

Tisone submitted false and fraudulent applications to the Small Business Administration and banks seeking several different types of loans between March 2020 and April 2021, according to the documents, which allege the applications contained false information about his criminal history, payroll monthly average, number of employees and gross income. Tisone also submitted false payroll and tax documents, as well as a false business lease, it is alleged.

He received one Main Street Loan Program loan, four Economic Disaster Loans and five Paycheck Protection Program loans, totaling more than $2.6 million, authorities said. . He allegedly used the money to buy two houses in Naples, stocks and securities, a 2019 Tiara 34LS boat, a 4.02-carat engagement ring and ammunition. As part of his plea deal, Tisone must return the money and confiscate the houses, boat, and ring.

The Paycheck Protection Program involves billions of dollars in repayable small business loans for Americans struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The money should be used to pay employees, mortgage interest, rent and utilities. It’s part of the coronavirus relief program that became federal law in 2020.

The Economic Disaster Loan program is designed to provide economic relief to small businesses experiencing a temporary loss of income. The Main Street Loan Program was designed to provide support to small and medium businesses and their employees across the United States during the pandemic.


Follow AP coverage of the pandemic on https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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