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Fort Myers resident sentenced to two years in prison for COVID relief fraud

  • By Mark Gordon
  • | 8:00 a.m. October 24, 2023
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
  • Charlotte–Lee–Collier
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Cape Coral resident Denis Casseus, 44, has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for bank fraud in a PPP loan scam that government officials say netted nearly $300,000 in ill-gotten gains.  

Casseus pleaded guilty May 23 to both the bank fraud charge and an illegal monetary transaction. As part of the transaction, the sentencing judge, Thomas P. Barber, also entered an order of forfeiture of $298,875, the proceeds of the bank fraud. 

According to court documents and the U.S. Attorney’s office, here’s what happened: 

Between Feb. 22 and March 4, 2021, Casseus submitted two fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program applications to a financial institution federally insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation with branches in Lee County. In each application, Casseus falsely represented that the PPP funds would be used only for business-related purposes, as specified in the loan applications. 

Casseus falsely represented and certified that the PPP funds acquired from the requested loans would be used to retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage payments, lease payments, and utility payments on behalf of his purported businesses. (Federal officials didn’t disclose the name of the purported businesses.) 

In total, Casseus’ false and fraudulent representations caused the financial institution to approve and fund a total of $298,875 in PPP loans for his businesses. 

On March 4, 2021, Casseus made a wire payment of $110,000 to a title company for the purchase of a residence in Cape Coral. That money was an illegal monetary transaction as Casseus used more than $10,000 in the PPP loan funds toward the purchase of his residence, officials alleged. 

The PPP loan program stems from the  Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, passed in March 2020. The law, according to the statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office, was “designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who were suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses.”  

This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service. Assistant United States Attorney Yolande G. Viacava prosecuted it.



Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.

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