Cape Coral Man Sentenced To Prison For COVID Relief Fraud

Fort Myers, Florida – U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Barber has sentenced Denis Casseus (44, Cape Coral) to two years in federal prison for bank fraud and an illegal monetary transaction. As part of his sentence, the court also entered an order of forfeiture in the amount of $298,875, the proceeds of the bank fraud. Casseus had pleaded guilty on May 23, 2023.

According to court documents, between February 22 and March 4, 2021, Casseus submitted two fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications to a financial institution federally insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) 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. In total, Casseus’s 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 towards the purchase of his residence.   

In March of 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted as a federal law, 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, through a program referred to as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

In May 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The task force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

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

Originally published at https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl/pr/cape-coral-man-sentenced-prison-covid-relief-fraud

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