Florida man charged with COVID rescue fraud
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – A Florida man has received more than $ 7.2 million in coronavirus relief funds after cooking up hundreds of non-existent employees on loan applications, federal prosecutors have said.
A federal grand jury in Orlando entered an indictment last week against Don Cisternino, 45, of Chuluota. The central Florida man is charged with two counts of wire fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft and three counts of illegal money transactions. If found guilty, he faces more than 70 years in prison.
Last spring, Cisternino falsely claimed in a loan application that his New York-based company, MagnifiCo, had 441 employees and monthly payroll costs of more than $ 2.8 million in 2019, prosecutors said. The company actually had few, if any, employees other than Cisternino and his girlfriend, and it did not report any salaries to the IRS in 2019, officials said.
After securing the $ 7.2 million emergency loan, Cisternino purchased a 12,579 square foot (1,169 square meters) house in Seminole County, along with a Lincoln Navigator, Maserati and Mercedes. -Benz, prosecutors said.
Online court records did not indicate a lawyer for Cisternino.
The Paycheque Protection Program represents billions of dollars in repayable small business loans for Americans struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s part of the coronavirus relief program that became federal law in March.
Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.
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