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Owner of Fort Myers roofing company arrested, charged with COVID relief fraud

The owner of a Fort Myers roofing company was arrested after claims of defrauding the government out of $2 million in COVID-19 relief funds.

Casey David Crowther, 35, is charged with making a false statement to a lending institution.

Crowther was released Wednesday night from the Charlotte County Jail.

According to the complaint from U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez, Crowther sought and received more than $2 million in a Payroll Protection Program loan through an application on behalf of his Fort Myers company, Target Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. His loan application included false and misleading statements concerning what the PPP funds would be used for, specifically that the PPP funds would only be used for business-related purposes, to retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage payments, lease payments and utilities payments.

Crowther used a portion of the funds to purchase a 2020 40-foot catamaran boat for around $689,417, which he registered in his name, according to the complaint.

Laurie Thomas, owner of The Clam Bake, cannot believe someone would openly misuse tax dollars in the way.

“It’s just crazy! There’s so many businesses out there that were unable to get it and here’s somebody misusing the money. I just… I can’t believe what some people do,” Thomas said.

Martin Drexler owns Wise Guys Deli in downtown Fort Myers. “I’m a small guy and if I see anyone taking advantage in that manner, that kind of hurts. That kind of hurts,” he said.

Drexler struggled to keep his restaurant open when the pandemic began and says his PPP loan helped a ton. So for him to find out another business owner misused it, he was shocked. “That’s horrible. That’s terrible. That’s horrible. It was used for businesses to help people to employ people.”

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act is a federal law enacted in March to provide emergency financial assistance to Americans who are suffering economically from the pandemic. The PPP allows qualifying small businesses and other organizations to receive loans with a maturity of two years and an interest rate of one percent. Businesses must use PPP loan proceeds for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities.

Thomas simply cannot understand why someone would be so dishonest. “They could’ve kept people employed to buy food, pay their bills, pay their rent. I just… I can’t fathom that dishonesty,” she said.

Casey Crowther was a board member for Builder’s Care and has since resigned from his position.

Statement from Builder’s Care:

“Builders Care and its Board of Directors have just learned of an investigation involving one of our board members, Casey Crowther.

“It’s important to note that the charges were not related to Builders Care. While he was an active and valuable board member, Crowther did not have access to, and was not responsible for, the organization’s finances.

“Crowther has resigned from his position on the board of directors out of respect for Builders Care and its focus on providing emergency construction services at no cost to needy and deserving elderly and/or disabled homeowners, and their families, who cannot obtain repairs through traditional means. We will certainly continue to do the right thing for Builders Care and the good, deserving people we serve.”

This case is being investigated by the Secret Service and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Trent Reichling.

If convicted, Crowther faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. He was released on $100,000 bond Wednesday.

Crowther Roofing & Sheet Metal in Fort Myers says it has no business affiliation with Casey Crowther or Target Roofing & Sheet Metal.

Reporter:Andryanna Sheppard
Dannielle Garcia
Writer:WINK News
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