Sunday, November 27, 2022
Home HEALTH Florida man pleads guilty to $7.2 million COVID-19 aid fraud

Florida man pleads guilty to $7.2 million COVID-19 aid fraud

Orlando, Florida. — A Florida man who fled the US and was eventually arrested in Croatia has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $7.2 million in COVID-19 relief funds.

Don V. Cisternino, 46, of Chuluota, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Orlando to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and illegal money transaction, according to court documents. His hearing is scheduled for January 5 where he could face up to 32 years in federal prison. As part of a deal with prosecutors, Cisternino has already agreed to seize the money from the fraud, as well as any assets related to the crimes.

According to the plea agreement, Cisternino fraudulently obtained more than $7.2 million in emergency funds through a Paycheck Protection Program loan in May 2020. Cisternino’s PPP loan application falsely claimed that his company, MagnifiCo had 441 employees and monthly payroll expenses in 2019 of more than $2.8 million. In reality, the company had no more employees than Cisternino. Along with his loan application, Cisternino submitted false W-2 forms, many of which listed the names and Social Security numbers of real people who had not authorized him to use their identities. After receiving the money, Cisternino spent it on a Lincoln Navigator, a Maserati, a Mercedes-Benz, and a 12,579-square-foot (1,168-square-meter) house in Seminole County, Florida.

Cisternino fled to Switzerland after learning he was being investigated for fraud in January 2021, authorities said. He was arrested in April of that year pursuant to an Interpol Red Notice when he was trying to enter Croatia from Slovenia via Italy. He was later extradited to the United States.

The Paycheck Protection Program involves billions of dollars in forgivable small business loans for Americans battling the COVID-19 pandemic. The money must be used to pay employees, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities. It is part of the coronavirus relief package that became federal law in 2020.

———

Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at

RELATED ARTICLES

Greenland Inuit demanded answers on Denmark’s birth control scandal

Denmark and Greenland agree to investigate traumatic birth control procedures on Inuit Greenlanders.

Less travel for China’s Golden Week amid quarantine fears

BEIJING-- While China's top leaders commemorated revolutionary martyrs on Friday, far fewer Chinese are expected to travel during the upcoming "Golden Week" National Day...

Readers criticize recent column; Amy responds – Chicago Tribune

Dear Readers: I have heard from dozens of readers extremely concerned about my response to "Avoiding Amanita," the question written by a man who...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

5 things to Take Care of Before Listing Your Property on the Market

So you've decided to sell your home. Congratulations! This is a huge milestone. But before you list your home, there are a...

A Detailed Guide to Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been around for centuries, and it is still widely used in China today. For those who are...

12 Unbelievable Benefits of CBD Oils

CBD has become tremendously popular internationally as a lifestyle and medicinal product. Let us examine what CBD oils are and why they...

CBD melatonin gummies for sleep: can it help? 

Are you struggling to get adequate sleep? Do you also remain awake for days and weeks? Or are you just starting to...