Feds want engagement ring from FL man charged with COVID fraud

Daniel Joseph Tisone presented himself as a successful entrepreneur from Naples, Florida, with a business degree and a thriving investment portfolio in his applications for federal financial assistance for COVID-19.

But prosecutors said the 34-year-old did not mention his conviction for a failed college robbery that involved whipping a student with a gun – and that most of his business registrations had expired before the start of the pandemic.

Now Tisone has been charged with criminal fraud in the Central District of Florida following allegations that he submitted false documents to obtain $2.6 million in federal COVID-19 loans.

Prosecutors said Tisone used the money to buy at least two houses in Naples, buy securities wholesale and store ammunition for firearms he was not allowed to own. As a result, the government ordered her to confiscate many of her expensive possessions, including her boat and a personalized 4-carat diamond engagement ring.

Tisone was arrested on March 31 and has since posted $250,000 bond.

A grand jury indicted him on April 20 on 18 counts of wire fraud, bank fraud, impersonation, illegal money transactions and illegal possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.

But in a statement to McClatchy News on Monday, April 25, Tisone’s defense attorney said there was more to it than the indictment suggests.

“The indictment does not disclose all of the facts and circumstances surrounding this case,” Mark Eiglarsh said. “I have pleaded ‘not guilty’ on behalf of my client and requested a jury trial. At the appropriate time, we will disclose evidence to the court that both negates and/or mitigates his guilt.”

Fake business ventures

Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to stave off economic downturn. The package included billions of dollars in forgivable loans for small businesses known as the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, as well as an extension of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, or EIDL.

It also included a third program through the Treasury Department known as the Main Street Lending Program, through which small and medium-sized businesses qualified for financial assistance.

Tisone applied for funds from the three programs using at least five companies that were at one time registered in his name, prosecutors said.

The businesses included an eco-friendly car wash in Virginia known as Rub a Dub Eco Wash, a car care services company for electric and autonomous vehicles called Rub a Dub, and a holding company for “use properties high growth joint venture” known as TEC Ventures.

An FBI agent investigating the case said Tisone’s name is attached to a Yelp page for the car wash company, which mentions he studied accounting and finance, mentors teenagers in difficulty and that he is a member of the American Sailing Association in Washington, DC.

Tisone also runs a website for TEC Ventures in which he is listed as chairman and has a biography that describes him as a “successful business developer” with skills in “business strategy, investor relations, capital raising. and innovation”.

His TEC Ventures biography and LinkedIn page indicate that he graduated from Catholic University Busch School of Business & Economics, during which time he says he started Rub a Dub.

Virginia State Corporation Commission records show that Tisone incorporated its five corporations between 2013 and 2017, but all appear to have gone dormant within a year of registration. Tisone then reactivated several between March and July 2020.

Prosecutors said it was because he filed bogus federal loan applications on behalf of the companies around the same time.

The claims allegedly included made-up figures for his monthly salary expenses, the number of people he employed and the company’s gross revenue. Tisone is also accused of falsifying payroll and tax documents he submitted with the applications, as well as using the names and social security numbers of other people he believes worked for him.

Prosecutors said the applications did not mention Tisone’s two felony convictions from 2007 and 2012 that would have made him ineligible for some pandemic relief.

The feds are looking for an engagement ring and a luxury yacht

When Tisone was a 19-year-old sophomore attending Hofstra University in 2006, he was accused of attempting to rob another student, the Hofstra Chronicle reported. He was accused of planning to steal the student’s cocaine and laptop during a drug deal, but an altercation ensued and he fled, according to court documents.

A jury convicted him the following year of attempted robbery, obstruction of prosecution and assault. He was sentenced to six years in prison but was released after two years, according to New York Corrections records.

Tisone reportedly did not include the conviction — or his subsequent conviction for possession of a controlled substance — in his 10 MSLP, EID and PPP loan applications, leading the government to deposit more than $2.6 million on their bank accounts between March 2020 and April 2021.

Prosecutors first charged Tisone in a criminal complaint on March 30, according to court documents, and a grand jury returned the indictment after his arrest. He pleaded not guilty at an arraignment hearing on April 21.

If convicted, Tisone faces up to 30 years in prison for each count of wire and bank fraud, at least two years for each count of identity theft and up to 10 years. for each count of illegal monetary transactions and possession of ammunition.

Prosecutors also ordered him to forfeit:

$2.6 million making up the amount he earned from the alleged scheme

Over $65,000 from TEC Ventures bank accounts

A 4-carat oval-cut diamond engagement ring with a custom setting in 18k yellow gold that he reportedly purchased in September

A luxury yacht

A waterfront condo in Naples

A $3 million single-family home in Naples

Assorted ammo

A status conference is scheduled for May 9, and the judge has put Tisone’s case to trial during the June 1 term.

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Hayley Fowler is a reporter for The Charlotte Observer, covering breaking news and real-time news across North and South Carolina. She holds a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and previously worked as a legal reporter in New York City before joining the Observer in 2019.

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