Bank employee and HR manager testify about Casey Crowther’s PPP loans
A Sanibel Captiva Community Bank employee testified on day three of Casey Crowther’s federal trial that the owner of Target Roofing misrepresented his information while applying for a loan from the bank.
Jurors also heard from Target Roofing’s director of human resources.
A big question during the test is whether Crowther, 35, abused COVID relief PPP loans to purchase a $ 700,000 40-foot catamaran. The federal government is trying to prove that Crowther declared an additional 39 employees who did not actually exist, to qualify for Paycheck Protection Program loans.
Jurors heard testimony about the reinstated employees, including nearly 100 three-week paychecks that were never cashed.
Prosecutors said all of this represented bogus employees who were all fired on the same day.
The director of human resources said she had never seen any of the employees.
Prosecutors argued that Crowther made them up to make it look like he spent the P3 money correctly.
Crowther’s defense said it didn’t matter how the government aid was spent, as Crowther planned to repay the government for the loans.
Earlier today, two people in the courtroom were there to support Crowther, but the judge threatened to expel them if they kept nodding vigorously during the testimony.
In addition to listening to the company’s director of human resources, federal prosecutors reviewed numerous documents with a bank employee to show that the COVID relief funds were supposed to be spent on company costs, including including payroll, utilities or rent.
At first, the bank employee testified to the defense that Crowther had not misrepresented his information, but when pushed by prosecutors, the employee admitted that it “appears to be of a false declaration to my bank ”.
The bank employee also admitted that Crowther used the money to buy the boat. He testified that he saw the wire transfer from the account containing PPP money for the purchase of the boat.
The employee said he confronted Crowther and asked him what he would do with an audit. Crowther could prove he used the money for payroll, but then asked if he should move the money to make it “more beautiful,” according to the bank employee.
Crowther’s defense team argued that the money was just a loan because the business owner never asked for his loan to be forgiven. His defense team said the use of the product was limited by the CARES law when asking for a pardon.
On Monday, shortly before jury selection began, Crowther pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud and misrepresenting a lending institution, two of the first seven counts.
The federal government said it distorted its cash flow and provided fraudulent loan applications to a mortgage broker and lender.
Crowther said he “needed to make a down payment” and “did not have sufficient funds” so he “changed the bank statements on a computer”.
Crowther admitted the crime in court.
Crowther was indicted on September 23 with COVID fraud for using COVID-19 relief funds to purchase a boat. The US attorney’s office seized the 40-foot catamaran. Now they are hoping to take possession of his $ 1 million property in St. James City and the roughly $ 2 million they said they acquired as part of the illegal deals he made.
Lawyers hope to close the trial on Friday, Crowther could testify before then.