A Dade City man faces federal charges after officials say he secured more than $1.9 million in emergency Paycheck Protection Program funds and bought a Mercedes and Ford F-250 pickup with the cash.
Keith William Nicoletta, 48, faces up to 40 years in federal prison if convicted on charges of bank fraud and illegal monetary transactions, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
In May, Nicoletta received the funds from the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, according to a federal complaint. His loan application falsely claimed that he had a local scrap metal business with 69 employees and payroll expenses that exceeded $9 million annually, the complaint states. He reported no wages to the state of Florida for any employees this year or last year, a news release states.
The CARES Act was enacted in March to provide emergency financial assistance to Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Small businesses qualify for loans for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities.
The complaint said he never used the money toward payroll or business expenses.
Instead, he withdrew more than $100,000 in cash and bought a 2020 Mercedes for more than $106,000 and a Ford F-250 pickup for more than $66,000. Nicoletta also transferred the money between various accounts at different banks, the release said.