BEVERLY, MA —A large pepperoni with a side of warm and fuzzy mittens?
The former owner of Rasta Pasta Pizzeria in Beverly is facing federal fraud charges after the U.S. Attorney’s Office accused Dana McIntyre of using $660,000 in Paycheck Protection Program funds for personal purposes, including to buy alpacas for a farm in Vermont.
The Grafton, Vermont resident, who previously lived in Beverly and Essex, was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. McIntrye was scheduled to appear virtually in federal court on Tuesday.
The U.S. Attorney Office said in April, McIntyre submitted a fraudulent PPP application, along with inflated payroll expenses and falsified tax forms, claiming the pizzeria had nearly 50 employees. An investigation showed McIntyre paid fewer than 10 employees at any time before or after the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
McIntyre is accused of accepting the $660,000 loan, then selling the pizzeria and using all of the funds for personal expenses, including purchasing and upgrading an alpaca farm in Vermont and buy several alpacas, at least two vehicles — reportedly including a 1950 Hudson — and weekly airtime for a cryptocurrency-themed radio show.
“My client denies the allegation and will have further comment at a later date,” McIntyre’s attorney, Jason Stelmack, said in an email to the Associated Press.
The PPP program, through the federal CARES Act, was intended to allow small businesses to retain employees and pay certain business-related expenses during the pandemic through forgivable loans.
The fraud and money laundering charges carry a possible prison sentence of up to 20 years each and fines up to $500,000.
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(Scott Souza is a Patch field editor covering Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem and Swampscott. He can be reached at [email protected] Twitter: @Scott_Souza.)