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Casey Crowther indicted for fraud by grand jury; roofer claims PPP funds spent as intended

Michael Braun
Fort Myers News-Press

A federal grand jury returned a multi-count indictment including bank fraud against Target Roofing owner Casey D. Crowther on Wednesday. That action turned his preliminary hearing before a U.S. District Court judge into an arraignment.

As soon as Magistrate Judge Mac R. McCoy took the bench shortly after 1:30 p.m. he informed the court of the grand jury's action.

Crowther, president of a Fort Myers roofing company, was accused of falsely acquiring $2 million in COVID-19 relief funds. He was arrested and charged Sept. 2, his 35th birthday, and released on $100,000 bond Sept. 3.

Casey Crowther leaves the Federal Courthouse in downtown Fort Myers on Wednesday, September 23, 2020.

Crowther, represented Wednesday by Nicole Hughes Waid, an attorney with the FisherBroyles  law firm of Naples, is alleged to have used nearly $700,000 of the COVID funds to buy a 40-foot boat.

Crowther could face from 10 to to 30 years in prison on each count if convicted. He is accused of making false and misleading statements to a lending institution on behalf of his company, Target Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc., as well as three other counts involving banking activity according to the criminal complaint.

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U.S. Attorney Trenton Reichling said the federal government would be seeking forfeiture of nearly $3 million from Crowther as well as the boat he is accused of buying with the funds. 

Crowther entered a plea of not guilty to the charges.

McCoy reminded Crowther he was bound by the conditions of his release including not travelling outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court Middle District's Fort Myers Division, which includes Lee, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry and Charlotte counties.

Casey Crowther leaves the Federal Courthouse in downtown Fort Myers on Wednesday, September 23, 2020.

Following the brief arraignment, Waid made a statement on the federal courthouse steps stressing that the funds acquired by Crowther were used as intended.

"We wanted to let everyone know that Target Roofing did receive approximately $2 million in PPP program funds," Waid said. "Those funds were actually used to employ 50 members of the workforce."

Waid also said Target also spent $3,507,552.35 in payroll costs during the time period involved in the legal action. 

"$1.5 million dollars more than the funds they received," she said, adding the funds were used for what they were intended.

"Target Roofing was able to actually hire back employees that they had either laid off or furloughed during the February-March time period when COVID started."

She said Target Roofing was able to maintain and keep paying those employees during the pandemic.

"Target Roofing intends to continue to serving the community of SWFL," Waid said, "and appreciate their customers, they appreciate the support they received and most of all they appreciate their team of workers."

Fort Myers roofing business owner Casey David Crowther is facing charges he falsely acquired $2 million in COVID-19 relief funds and used nearly $700,000 of it to buy a 2020 40-foot Invincible catamaran similar to the one shown here.

Waid said Target Roofing is hoping to continue to create jobs.

"That's exactly what this PPP program was for," she said. "Let's keep the people of the Fort Myers area and Lee County paid."

Waid said she and Crowther are looking forward to their day in court.

"It's unfortunate, and we're disappointed, that the government decided, even with this information, to continue toward indictment. But we plan on aggressively defending the allegations."

The four counts of the federal indictment claim Crowther committed bank fraud, submitted false statements to a lending institution and conducted illegal monetary transactions.

The complaint states that Crowther submitted an application in April and received more than $2 million from a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. The application stated the money would only be used for business-related purposes, to retain workers, and maintain payroll or make mortgage payments, lease payments, and utilities payments.

The complaint further claims that within days of receiving the PPP funds, Crowther used a portion to purchase a 2020 40-foot catamaran for approximately $689,417, which he registered in his name.

The case has been assigned to Judge John Badalamenti in Fort Myers. Crowther will next appear before Badalamenti  on Oct. 13 for a status conference and then for trial Nov. 2.

Connect with breaking news reporter Michael Braun: MichaelBraunNP (Facebook)@MichaelBraunNP (Twitter) or mbraun@news-press.com.

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Previous coverage:Fort Myers businessman Casey Crowther accused of misusing $2M in COVID-19 funds; bought boat with funds

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