A central Florida man is facing federal charges that he used more than $1.9 million in emergency Paycheck Protection Program funds on personal expenses, including the purchase of a new Mercedes and pickup truck.
Keith William Nicoletta, 48, of Dade City was arrested last week on charges of bank fraud and illegal monetary transactions, which carry up to 40 years in federal prison if he is convicted. In a criminal complaint, the U.S. Department of Justice accused him of fraudulently claiming to employ 69 people in a scrap metal business that was operating out of his residential home.
Immediately after securing the federal loan, which was intended to help businesses retain workers during the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said Nicoletta immediately began moving the funds to newly opened bank accounts and went on a spending spree.
“None of the money was used for payroll,” the DOJ said in a press release on Friday.
In addition to withdrawing $100,000 in cash, authorities allege, Nicoletta purchased a 2020 Mercedes for more than $106,000 as well as a 2020 special-edition Ford F-250 pickup valued at over $66,000. He also allegedly wired approximately $537,000 to a property management company in South Florida.
An eventual investigation determined that his purported scrap metal business, West Coast Cores, which he claimed had an annual payroll of roughly $9.1 million, had been inactive for over a year and had no employee wages in 2019 or 2020, authorities said.
Nicoletta did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment Monday.
This summer, another Florida man was arrested on similar charges.
David Tyler Hines, 29, of Miami was charged with bank fraud, making false statements to a financial institution and engaging in transactions in unlawful proceeds after authorities say he fraudulently obtained $3.9 million in federal PPP loans and used it to buy a Lamborghini and for other personal expenses.
Hines was arrested in July after the $318,000 Lamborghini he allegedly purchased with the loan money was involved in a hit-and-run accident.