Orange County man who bought luxury cars with COVID relief funds sentenced to prison
An Orange County man who fraudulently received $5 million in pandemic relief loans and then spent the money on lavish vacations, luxury sports cars and his own personal expenses was sentenced Friday to 4½ years in prison, the authorities said federal prosecutors with.
Mustafa Qadiri, 42, of Irvine, had obtained the funds by submitting loan applications to the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which Congress created in March 2020 to help small businesses facing COVID-19-related shutdowns and struggling to survive other business disruptions, to provide emergency aid.
The loans were designed to prevent employee layoffs, and recipients were entitled to use the funds for payroll, rent or mortgage payments, or utilities, but not for personal expenses.
Qadiri filed the applications in May and June 2020 on behalf of four separate Newport Beach companies, none of which were actually operating at the time, federal prosecutors said. Among other deceptions, he lied about company employee numbers, falsified bank balances and prepared falsified tax returns, officials said.
Then, with money in hand, he began his personal spending spree — including by buying Ferrari, Bentley and Lamborghini sports cars, federal officials said.
Federal agents later confiscated the cars, along with more than $2 million from Qadiri’s bank accounts, and a federal grand jury indicted him.
Qadiri pleaded guilty to bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering in July 2021. In addition to his prison sentence, he was sentenced to a $20,000 fine and more than $2.8 million in damages.
Neither Qadiri nor his lawyer could be reached for comment.
Several friends who wrote character references for Qadiri in federal court described him as a caring and generous man who was raised by his mother, an immigrant from Afghanistan, after his father died in infancy.
They described how Qadiri found success in business early in life and in recent years suffered from alcohol abuse – which led to him straying.
Qadiri requested in court filings that he be considered for the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ substance abuse program.
Qadiri’s case is just one example of what authorities have described as widespread fraud under federal programs put in place to alleviate economic hardship caused by the pandemic.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2023-02-18/orange-county-man-who-bought-luxury-cars-with-covid-relief-funds-sentenced-to-prison Orange County man who bought luxury cars with COVID relief funds sentenced to prison