St. Petersburg Police say three men caught as part of a drug trafficking investigation were using Small Business Administration loans to fuel their operations.
What's happening: Dante Payne, Russell Jones and Kenneth Davis were all arrested earlier this month for drug offenses and charges of defrauding a financial institution, WFLA reports.
- Payne received $20,832 after he claimed to own "Brother's Landscaping Co.," telling the government that the company grossed $128,800 in 2020.
- Jones got $9,516 after he claimed to own a barbershop that grossed $45,681 last year.
- Davis collected $20,832 for a business police did not identify, but said he claimed grossed $105,900 last year.
Why it matters: These may be relatively small amounts of money, but they add up when more than 500 people across the country have been charged with pandemic loan fraud.
- The first of those charged was sentenced last month to 56 months in federal prison.
- The day before that sentencing, SBA Inspector General Hannibal Ware said the program improperly paid $4.5 billion to self-employed people.
Meanwhile: In Orange County, police said a handful of accused gang members applied for federal Paycheck Protection Program and SBA loans that may have helped pay for drugs and guns sometimes used to commit violent crimes, per an August report from WFTV in Orlando.
- At least six people were accused of creating LLCs, soliciting people through social media and in some cases, stealing identities to apply for PPP and SBA loans that got approved.
What they're saying: Pasco County hemp nursery owner Marlon Santiago told WFLA he was disgusted to find out about these cases when small businesses owners are still waiting on their SBA loans.
- "People like myself are still struggling to get the money that we should be getting. And you've got guys who are doing (it) the wrong way, getting money hand over fist."
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