Thursday, December 9, 2021

Former Boston Grand Prix CFO pleads guilty to fraud, money laundering

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The former chief financial officer of the ill-fated Boston Grand Prix pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston Thursday to more than 30 charges related to schemes to defraud equipment providers, small business financing firms, and the federal government, including taking more than $676,000 in pandemic relief funds, officials said.

John F. Casey, 57, formerly of Ipswich, entered guilty pleas for three counts of aggravated identity theft, three counts of filing false tax returns, four counts of money laundering, and 23 counts of wire fraud, according to a statement from the US attorney’s office for Massachusetts.

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He also pleaded guilty to laundering the money he obtained fraudulently and failing to report revenue from one of his schemes on his personal income taxes from 2014 to 2016, prosecutors said.

Casey is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 15. He was arrested in late September 2020 after he was indicted on the charges.

His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.

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Casey became the Boston Grand Prix’s chief financial officer in 2015, and that year the Grand Prix made payments to Casey or on his behalf that totaled more than $300,000, according to the statement. In 2016, the organization doubled that amount to over $600,000, but Casey did not report either sum on his personal tax returns, according to prosecutors.

The Boston Grand Prix, an IndyCar Series race planned for the South Boston Seaport, was abruptly canceled in 2016 over what Casey called an “untenable” relationship with city officials.

Casey also owned a Peabody ice rink from October 2013 to June 2016. Between October 2014 and October 2016, he took more than $743,000 from equipment financing companies, saying the money would be used to buy equipment for the rink, though during the final four months of that period he had already sold the property, prosecutors said.

Two months after Casey sold the rink, he received more than $145,000 in small business loans for it, submitting “false documents and information including fake invoices for the equipment, bank records purporting to show deposits into Casey’s accounts related to the Peabody rink, inflated personal and corporate tax returns, and personal financial statements falsely claiming ownership and value of various assets,” according to the statement.

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In support of one loan application, he submitted a fraudulent deed of sale that included a forged signature, prosecutors said. After obtaining the money using false statements and fake documents, Casey never repaid most of the financing companies, according to prosecutors.

Casey also submitted more than a dozen false applications for Paycheck Protection Program loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the federal Small Business Administration during 2020 and 2021, as well as a Massachusetts Sector-Specific Relief Grant, and then used the money for personal expenses, according to the statement.

In January, while he was awaiting trial for his earlier crimes, Casey applied for a $70,000 pandemic relief grant from the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation and submitted false information about the operating costs of a firm that was not in business in 2019 or 2020, prosecutors said.

Casey received more than $676,000 in pandemic relief funds and spent most of the money on personal expenses, “including a three-carat diamond ring, a six-month membership to Match.com, private school tuition, residential rent payments, living expenses, payments on personal credit card accounts, restaurant meals, car payments, and luxury hotel stays,” according to the statement.

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