LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A judge sentenced a Nevada man to two years and four months in prison Thursday after he fraudulently obtained over $500,000 in COVID relief funds and laundered it through his friends and family to buy a house.
According to court documents, Brandon Casutt, 52, of Henderson, submitted multiple fraudulent applications to the Small Business Administration and four of its lenders under the CARES Act on behalf of two different entities.
The Department of Justice said he was attempting to obtain more than $5.7 million.
Two of his applications received funding: a Paycheck Protection Program loan for approximately $350,000 in the name of a business called Sky DeSign and an Economic Injury Disaster Loan for approximately $150,000 in the name of a charity called Skyler’s CF Foundation, which is supposedly devoted to raising awareness about cystic fibrosis.
While the loan applications said that each entity had numerous employees, payroll expenses, and revenue, neither had employees or paid any wages.
After receiving the PPP money, Casutt laundered it by writing dozens of fake payroll checks to himself, family members, and friends, officials said. On the checks’ memos, Casutt falsely wrote that they were for “pandemic pay” or “back pay.”
He would then cash or deposit the fake paychecks, and the money was diverted back to a bank account under Casutt’s control. He then used the money to buy a $400,000 home in Henderson in June 2020 that he and his family moved into, according to the Department of Justice.
In August 2020, Casutt pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of concealment money laundering.