- A Florida businessman was charged with buying a mansion and luxury cars with federal aid money
- The defendant applied for a PPP loan, established as part of the federal CARES bill
- The businessman faces two counts of wire fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft and three counts of illegal money transaction
The federal authorities of the United States accused a businessman of buying a mansion in Florida and luxury cars through 7.2 million dollars that he obtained from the government’s Salary Protection Program (PPP), which gives access to loans to small businesses , reported the Efe agency.
Don Cisternino, who in 2014 founded the firm MagnifiCo, faces two counts of electronic fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft and three counts of illegal monetary transaction, as reported this Friday by the local television station WKMG.
According to the indictment, Cisternino used the money to purchase a $ 3.1 million mansion as well as a $ 250,000 Mercedes-Benz car, an 89,000 Lincoln Navigator and a $ 48,000 Maserati.
The accused small businessman and his partner, Lori Quasky, acquired a mansion in Chuluota, central Florida, while under investigation for using false information to obtain a loan for their business.
Cisternino is accused of claiming that New York-based MagnifiCo employed more than a hundred persons and destined an average monthly payroll of 2.8 million dollars.
However, records show the firm as a consulting firm with few or no employees.
The accused businessman applied for a loan from the PPP, established as part of the federal CARES bill, put in place to relieve small businesses that were affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the US Small Business Administration (SBA), any PPP loan “may be forgiven in full if the funds are used to pay payroll, mortgage interest, leases and utilities”, but, in order to apply to This pardon, 75% of the money received will have to be allocated to the salaries of the workers.
On the other hand, a former University of Florida professor and researcher fraudulently obtained $ 1.8 million in federal grant funds while concealing the support he received from the Chinese government and a company he founded in China to benefit from that research, they said. American officials.
An indictment revealed Wednesday charges Lin Yang, 43, a Chinese national, with six counts of wire fraud and four counts of making false statements to a US agency. A federal grand jury in Gainesville returned the indictment in December, reported AP.
Yang traveled to China in August 2019 and has not returned to the US.
“The taxpayer dollars that funded Yang’s research were intended to benefit the health and well-being of American citizens,” US Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Lawrence Keefe said in a statement.
“But our prosecution alleges that Yang engaged in acts of deliberate deception so that he could also advance the investigative goals of the Chinese Communist government and promote his own business interests,” he added.
According to the indictment, Yang obtained a grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a muscle imaging tool known as “MuscleMiner.”
He served as the NIH Grant Principal Investigator at UF from September 2014 to July 2019.
In 2016, Yang established a business in China known as “Deep Informatics,” prosecutors said. He was also accepted into the People’s Republic of China Thousand Talents Program in connection with Northwest Polytechnic University, located in Xi’an, China.
The indictment alleges that Yang intentionally concealed his Chinese business and involvement in a Chinese government talent scheme. On multiple occasions, Yang submitted disclosures to NIH and UF that contained false statements and material omissions, authorities said.
The case against Yang follows an initiative by the Justice Department, launched in 2018, to further its focus on countering economic espionage and the theft of trade secrets by Chinese interests.
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