The trial against Casey Crowther began its second day on Tuesday with opening statements. By lunchtime, at least three witnesses had testified and the last count, illegal monetary transaction, was dismissed.
Crowther is accused of COVID relief fraud after authorities said he used the payment protection program to buy a 40-foot catamaran.
Crowther’s attorneys said the $700,000 boat wasn’t just for his family, but also for charity events and entertaining customers are Target Roofing.
But the federal government said the payment protection program, which Crowther is accused of abusing, is meant to help businesses survive in the pandemic, not for boats.
In opening arguments, the federal government said Crowther, 35, was the only person with access to the paycheck protection program, also known as PPP loans.
Prosecutors said evidence shows that Crowther went boat shopping right before applying for PPP loans. Additionally, according to prosecutors, Crowther added 39 fake employees to his payroll to “shred paper” at a roofing company, who all had either unassigned social security numbers or mismatches socials and green cards.
Prosecutors said Crowther faked the employees in order to qualify for the $2 million PPP loan.
Crowther also hired five family members who were never actually seen working at the company.
“The government is trying to prove Mr. Crowther has a lying problem,” a prosecutor said.
Crowther’s defense team argues it was just a loan and Crowther never applied for loan forgiveness. And because there was no default, there was no government loss.
Defense attorneys also said on Tuesday that Crowther was “not the main person involved,” calling it a “team decision” and a “company decision.”
Count 7, which was dismissed, accused Crowther of wire fraud by allowing $640,381.21 to be transferred from his mortgage lender to an escrow account to buy a home.
The trial had its first full day on Tuesday after a jury was selected on Monday. Also on Monday, Crowther pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud and giving false statements to a lending institution.
Feds say he misrepresented his liquid assets 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 “altered bank statements on a computer.”
Crowther admitted the crime in court.
Crowther was indicted on Sept. 23 for COVID relief fraud for using COVID-19 relief funds to buy a boat. The U.S. Attorney’s Office seized the 40-foot catamaran. Now, they are hoping to take possession of his million-dollar property in St. James City and about $2 million they said he acquired as part of the illegal deals he made.
The trial continues on its third day on Wednesday.