Local business owners who are struggling to recover from the pandemic are frustrated to hear that the owner of a Massachusetts pizza parlor is accused of fraudulently obtaining more than $660,000 in federal coronavirus relief funds.
Dana McIntyre, 57, of Grafton, Vermont, lied about the number of employees he had, then used some of the money to buy and stock an alpaca farm in Vermont, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, small business owners scrambled to get federal aid through the Paycheck Protection Program, which The New York Times reported ran out of funding four weeks before its scheduled end date. Last month, lawmakers extended the PPP deadline to May 31.
McIntyre was arrested Tuesday and charged with wire fraud and money laundering, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston. If convicted of both charges, he faces up to 40 years in prison and $750,000 in fines.
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McIntyre, who formerly lived in Beverly and Essex, Massachusetts, was the owner of Rasta Pasta Pizzeria in Beverly in April 2020 when he applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, prosecutors said.
But in his application, he falsified an official tax form and claimed the pizza shop had almost 50 employees, when records indicate it had fewer than 10, in an effort to inflate the size of the loan he was entitled to, authorities said.
“It’s not fair for everybody," said Danny Dang, owner of T-D Family Market in the same strip mall as the pizza place. He’s had a tough time applying for pandemic funds, and could have used the money that went to McIntyre.
“You see my bill here, it's an electric bill and the gas bill," Dang said. "I have no money to pay due.”
After McIntyre received the loan, he sold the pizza shop and used the money to purchase and upgrade a farm in Vermont and buy several alpacas, authorities said. He also bought at least two vehicles — including a 1950 Hudson — and weekly airtime for a cryptocurrency-themed radio show that he hosted, prosecutors said.
Nicole LeBlanc used to be a customer.
"I thought he was a nice guy, I didn’t know he misused the funds, I think it’s sad anyone would do that," LeBlanc said. “There’s other small local businesses that could have used that help, we saw many places in Beverly close.”
The current owners of the pizza shop say they bought the business in September and have nothing to do with the McIntyre investigation.
McIntyre made his first court appearance remotely Tuesday afternoon and was released on $100,000 unsecured bond. He had to surrender his passport. McIntyre and to his attorney have not responded to multiple requests for comment.