BEVERLY – Federal prosecutors say a former North Shore business owner grossly inflated the number of employees and payroll at his Beverly pizzeria to fraudulently obtain federal COVID-19 relief funds – which he used to buy a farm and alpacas in Vermont.
Dana McIntyre, 57, former owner of Rasta Pasta Pizzeria, was arrested Tuesday morning for wire fraud and money laundering.
He was expected to be released on $ 100,000 bail with a series of conditions, following his initial video appearance Tuesday afternoon in United States District Court.
“My client denies the allegation and will have further comment at a later date,” McIntyre attorney Jason Stelmack said in an email to The Associated Press.
According to court documents, McIntyre obtained more than $ 661,000 in loan funds from the Payroll Protection Program last year by claiming he had 47 employees and a monthly payroll of $ 265,000 at his small pizzeria in a downtown Cabot Street Shopping Center.
But it used different numbers when applying for economic disaster loans and in previous tax returns, leading investigators to conclude that McIntyre pizza place never had more than 10 employees on its list. payroll and that he would have been entitled to a much smaller amount of PPP funds.
Investigators also allege that McIntyre set up shell companies on behalf of his children in an attempt to obtain disaster loans.
McIntyre applied for the PPP loans through Kabbage, an online financial technology company that had been approved to issue the loans.
After securing the PPP funds, McIntyre, who had lived in Essex, sold the pizzeria and used the money to buy a farm in Grafton, Vermont, pay for home and property improvements, and buy several alpacas, according to court documents.
He set up a trust fund through a Vermont law firm, then made transfers from that fund to pay for the farm, equipment and vehicles and $ 6,380 for the cost of the alpacas. , using another $ 3,400 from a payroll account for the balance, the affidavit mentioned.
On its website, Houghtonville Farm advertises packages such as âThe Alpaca Experienceâ, the âFamily Alpaca Picnicâ and âWine, Cheese and Alpaca!â at rates starting at $ 99 per hour. The farm’s website also offers alpaca products and listed an ‘Opening Day’ event for nearby residents last Saturday.
Off-air radio broadcast
McIntyre also allegedly used PPP funds to pay for a classic 1950 Hudson, a GMC Sierra truck, and $ 6,500 to pay for airtime on WBOQ, a North Shore radio station, to host a paid show called “The Dana Crypto. Show “where he talked about cryptocurrency.
Todd Tanger, chairman of the station, which runs through “North Shore 104.9”, called the allegations “heartbreaking” and said the show was being deleted.
âThe paycheck protection program has been very important to many local businesses struggling to survive over the past year,â Tangier said in an email. âMr. McIntyre’s show has been on North Shore 104.9 FM for approximately three years and today we took it off the air immediately pending the investigation and the outcome of the charges.
McIntyre also ran a company called New England Block Chain LLC, which operated a network of Bitcoin ATMs in the region, one of them within his company, according to a 2018 press release promoting its segments. WBOQ.
Some of the funds, according to an affidavit filed in the case, were spent on other expenses, including $ 2,200 in February for a “cosmetic spa.”
McIntyre used part of the funds to pay $ 43,000 to six people identified as Rasta Pasta employees. Almost half of that amount went to one person, who continued to receive weekly payments after McIntyre sold the pizza business. This person also owned a business in Rockport, which received $ 1,600 in funds over a four-month period.
McIntyre also allegedly used Venmo to send nearly $ 17,000 to someone else who federal investigators said appeared to have worked at Rasta Pasta but who did not appear in any payroll records.
According to the affidavit, investigators discovered discrepancies in the size of McIntyre’s payroll, as shown on various tax forms and documents relating to Unemployment Insurance and Workers’ Compensation Insurance.
However, McIntyre has also organized or taken part in charitable activities in the past. In the early 2000s, while owning a landscaping business in Salem, McIntyre was president of the Salem Rotary Club. He helped lead a team of members who traveled to Bolivia to participate in a program to help children born with cleft lip and cleft palate. He also hosted an annual party for children in the state’s foster care system and led efforts to raise funds for a community center in the Salem’s Point neighborhood.
If found guilty, he faces up to 20 years in prison on each of the two counts.
Judge Judith Dein ordered that when released, McIntyre must return his passports, not use drugs, including marijuana, which is still illegal under federal law, and have no contact with witnesses in the business other than his own children.
The judge also ordered not to sell or transfer any assets, whether those assets are in his own name or part of a trust or other entity from which he benefits, while the case is pending. . A probable causes hearing will take place later this month.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.