TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A 38-year-old Florida man pleaded guilty to fraudulently taking nearly $20 million while on federal pretrial release for a similar crime.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Officer for the Middle District of Florida, 38-year-old Nikesh Patel pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with 13 counts of money laundering, wire fraud, and related charges.
Court documents showed that Patel was charged in 2014 for committing a $179 million fraud scheme in Illinois. After his arrested, authorities said Patel posted bond.
“For the next several years, Patel claimed that he was cooperating with authorities and using his business skills to get funds to repay some of what he owed,” the attorney’s office said. “In fact, Patel had devised a new scheme that netted him almost $20 million.”
Authorities said Patel’s new fraud scheme involved three parts; First, Patel would fabricate fraudulent loan documents that appeared to be approved by a bank in Miami. Although the bank existed, Patel listed a fictitious identity used to perpetrate the scheme.
Patel would then apply to the USDA Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program in order for the USDA to guarantee the fake loans. Authorities said Patel then sold the guaranteed portion of the fake loans to the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation.
The attorney’s office said Patel executed the scheme on three occasions, receiving almost $20 million in proceeds.
While Patel used a portion of the funds from the scheme to pay some of his restitution, he saved much of it to flee the U.S., court documents said.
Three days before the sentencing for Patel’s 2014 crime, authorities arrested Patel at an airport in Kissimmee where he chartered a flight to Ecuador intending to request political asylum.
Patel’s bond was revoked and the U.S. Marshals Service sent him to the Northern District of Illinois. On March 6, 2018, Patel was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison.
Patel also faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison for each count of conspiracy and wire fraud, and up to 20 years imprisonment for each money laundering count he received for the new scheme. His sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.