TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man who received more than $1.9 million in coronavirus relief funds is accused of laundering most of the money through a fake business and purchasing a luxury car and a pickup truck, federal prosecutors said.

Keith William Nicoletta, 48, of Dade City, was arrested earlier this week and charged with bank fraud and illegal monetary transactions, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Tampa. He faces up to 40 years in federal prison.

Prosecutors accuse Nicoletta of falsely claiming on a loan application that he had a scrap metal business with 69 employees and a monthly payroll of more than $760,000

Once the emergency loan was secured, Nicoletta transferred the money between various accounts and withdrew more than $100,000 in cash, officials said. Nicoletta then purchased a 2020 Mercedes and a 2020 special edition Ford F-250 pickup. He also wired approximately $537,000 to a property management company in South Florida. None of the money was used for payroll.

A attorney for Nicoletta didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

The Paycheck Protection Program represents billions of dollars in forgivable small business loans for Americans struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's part of the coronavirus relief package that became federal law in March.


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