Rep. Gus Bilirakis wants hearings after accused St. Petersburg drug dealers received SBA loans

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakis was outraged when he learned three accused drug dealers in St. Petersburg applied for and received SBA loans.

“The SBA is giving money to these drug dealers? Unacceptable,” said Bilirakis from his office in Washington D.C. “And I’m going to make sure that we have oversight hearings on this.”

Police arrested 21-year old Dante Payne on Nov.15. He’s facing numerous drug charges and one count of defrauding a financial institution.

According to the arrest report, he filed paperwork with the government claiming he owned “Brother’s Landscaping Co.” He stated the company grossed $128,800 in 2020 and he received $20,832 to cover payroll and business overhead costs.

Russell Jones is also accused of receiving SBA loans. Police arrested him on Nov. 8. According to the arrest report he claimed he owned a barbershop that grossed $45,681 in 2020. The paperwork indicates he received $9,516 from the government to cover payroll and business overhead costs.

Police arrested Kenneth Davis on Nov. 9. The arrest report does not indicate the type of business he claimed to own, but it did say in 2020 the unnamed business grossed $105,900 in 2020 and he received $20,832 from the government.

Officers arrested the three men during a drug trafficking investigation that has been ongoing for months.

Congressman Bilirakis believes the men essentially stole much-needed funds from legitimate businesses that are truly in need.

“There are over 50-businesses that have contacted my office because they are not receiving these loans. These are legitimate loans,” said Bilirakis. “They need this money and some of the money has been approved. The loans have been approved but they haven’t received the funds. And yet, we’re giving money, the SBA is giving money to these drug dealers?”

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