A Coral Springs, Florida police officer has been indicted by a federal grand jury for using COVID 19 grants and low-interest loans to restore his classic car. The U.S. Small Business Administration offered the loans and grants as relief for some businesses hurt by the COVID restrictions and fallout. Today a federal district court unsealed the indictment.
How did the cop get the funds for his classic car?
According to the Southern District of Florida Department of Justice, the indictment alleges that Jason Scott Carter applied for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan for his business, Jason S.Carter, Inc. Numerous conditions must be certified by the applicant to be eligible for the money. One of those conditions is to certify that the applicant will only use the funds for business expenses due to COVID-related economic injury.
But the grand jury alleges at least $21,000 was for parts and services for his classic car. Unfortunately, the indictment doesn’t describe what the classic car is. For a conviction, Carter faces 20 years in federal prison. Included in the indictment is also one count of wire fraud.
What were the SBA COVID loans for?
It became apparent there were many incidents of alleged fraud in connection with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act aid. Small business and individual emergency assistance was the expectation for the program. Most businesses legitimately needed and used the funds for those purposes.
The SBA also offered its Economic Injury Disaster Loans for grants and low-interest loans for businesses’ financial hardships over COVID-related circumstances. All of the loans were handled online and if approved, the SBA directly sent the funds.
A task force was created to look into potential COVID loan fraud
However, by 2021, there were widespread reports in the media and online of applicants using the funds for a wide variety of non-business-related expenses. So on May 17, 2021, the Attorney General started the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force. With assistance from the Department of Justice and other federal agencies, it began investigating these allegations.
The task force also helped other municipalities and individuals tasked with certifying the applications, to investigate and search for fraud. That included sharing information across agencies to help escalate and pin down investigations. Obviously, these criminal activities take time to determine fraud. That is why it has taken a while for some of these indictments to surface.
Carter made his first appearance last week before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. He was released on bond and is now awaiting trial. The Miami regional office of the House and Human Services Department and the Tampa FBI conducted the investigation. Once a verdict has been reached we’ll update this post.