A Dade City man who was accused of using $1.9 million in Paycheck Protection Program money to buy expensive cars, jewelry and an at-home pool has pleaded guilty to his charges.
Keith Nicoletta, 48, faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to the charge of conspiracy to launder stolen COVID relief funds, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
As part of his plea, money and goods from the coronavirus funds were forfeited.
In May, Nicoletta claimed his local business had 69 employees with a monthly payroll of more than $760,000. The address on the application was for Nicoletta’s home, and his business had no employees, according to the department of justice.
Once he got the loan, he immediately began laundering the money, according to the justice department. He also pulled out $100,000 in cash, bought a 2020 Mercedes for more than $100,000, bought a 2020 special edition Ford F-250 pickup truck for more than $66,000 and installed a home pool for about $63,000.
None of the money was used for payroll. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act was created in March 2020 to give financial assistance, including small business loans. PPP loans must be used for payroll, rent, interest on mortgages and utilities.
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