FLORIDA – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida (USAO) has announced that a Northwest Florida real estate broker has agreed to pay over $4 million to resolve false claims act allegations relating to fraudulent Cares Act loans.
According to the USAO, real estate broker Chad Wade, 41, of Panama City, and seven of his companies have settled allegations of violating the False Claims Act by providing false information for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) loans.
The companies involved in the settlement are Ideal Property Holdings, LLC; Grand Panama Resort Properties, LLC; Beach Life Properties PCB, LLC; First Texas Mortgage, LLC; PCB Limousine, LLC; South Houston Vending Company, LLC; and Emerald Oak Stables, LLC, said the USAO.
Jason R. Coody, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced the settlement.
“The theft of any amount of taxpayer funds is inexcusable,” said Coody.
“However, the defendant’s deceptive acts of diverting millions of dollars in emergency financial assistance from small businesses during the pandemic is beyond the pale. This civil resolution and the forthcoming criminal sentence will punish the defendant’s criminal conduct and should serve as a significant deterrent to those who would steal from hardworking taxpayers to unlawfully enrich themselves.”
The United States alleged that from in or about April 2020, through June 2021, Wade prepared and submitted, or caused to be submitted, false and fraudulent applications and documents to obtain four EIDL loans and 14 PPP loans totaling $1,506,803.
Wade reportedly submitted numerous false documents, including false federal tax documents, false state tax documents, and false employee wage reports.
The United States further alleged that Wade used the EIDL and PPP funds to grow his real estate businesses by purchasing and paying off properties; purchasing a vacation villa in Mexico; buying a red 1981 Ferrari (among other luxury items); paying personal expenses; and otherwise funding a lavish lifestyle, in direct violation of the terms of the EIDL and PPP programs.
The United States also alleged that Wade prepared and submitted, or caused to be submitted, false and fraudulent forgiveness applications wherein he falsely certified that the entire loan amounts were used to pay eligible business costs.
On July 7, 2023, Wade pleaded guilty to three criminal counts in connection with the fraudulent EIDL and PPP loans: (1) Wire Fraud; (2) Money Laundering; and (3) Bankruptcy Fraud. His sentencing is scheduled for October 19, 2023.
Wade agreed to pay $4,027,804.69 in damages and penalties under the FCA, of which $1,579,531.25 is restitution, the USAO said.
The civil matter was handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Mary Ann Couch and Marie Moyle and the criminal matter was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Corey J. Smith from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida, with assistance from the U.S. Small Business Admission Office of General Counsel and the U.S. Small Business Admission Office of Inspector General.