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COVID fraud lands Riverview, Fort Myers men in federal prison


  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 1:00 p.m. June 11, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
  • Florida
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Two local men were sentenced to federal prison this week in separate cases stemming from criminal charges for COVID relief fraud.

According to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, 40-year-old Evan Graves was sentenced to 18 months by a judge in Fort Myers and 39-year-old Alexander Alli was sentenced to 13 months by a judge in Tampa.

Graves, of Alva, Lee County, pleaded guilty in Decembers, and Alli, of Riverview, Hillsborough County, was found guilty by a jury in March.

In both cases, the men had been charged with wire fraud and other charges for taking advantage of relief programs made available to businesses during the pandemic and for using the proceeds for personal gain.

Graves was ordered to forfeit $1.35 million and five Fort Myers properties paid for using the money. Alli has to forfeit $82,400.

Here, according to the Justice Department and other court documents, is what happened in each case:

Alli submitted an application to the U.S. Small Business Administration for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan between April and July 2020.

In it, he included a company name, address, telephone number and gross revenue. He also detailed the business’ woes, claiming it was suffering an economic injury due to the pandemic.

With that information, the SBA awarded him $80,400 in disaster loan funds.

Alli, according to the indictment, and a co-conspirator then used that money “for unauthorized purposes and for their own personal enrichment and the enrichment of others.”

Not only that, but “Alli’s business was no longer operational at the time his EIDL application was submitted and had ceased operations prior to the start of the pandemic,” the Justice Department says.

He was convicted of conspiracy and wire fraud.

As for Graves, prosecutors say he submitted 10 EIDL applications in June and July 2020 for several Fort Myers-based limited liability companies he owned. He lied on each, falsely representing the number of employees, gross revenues and lost rental income to “qualify for large loan amounts and advance funding.”

As a result of the information in those applications, the SBA approved the 10 loans and deposited about $1.35 million in bank accounts he controlled.

Graves then used the money to pay off personal credit card debt and fund personal investment accounts.

He also used the money for real estate.

According to the plea agreement, on Aug. 11, 2020, he bought a piece of commercial property at 2973 Palm Beach Blvd. in Fort Myers. Lee County property records show he paid $185,000 for it under the name of one of the LLCs an application was submitted for.

He also used the money to pay off the mortgages on five homes he owned in the city.

Graves pled guilty to wire fraud.

Alli’s case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Peresie and Merrilyn E. Hoenemeyer were the prosecutors.

Graves’ case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Simon Eth and Suzanne Nebesky were the prosecutors.

 

author

Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the deputy managing editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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