February 28, 2024

MONTEREY – Monterey caterer Dory Lindsay Ford has been charged with defrauding the federal government out of $4 million in COVID-relief funds the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace, Northern California District introduced.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Ford with varied crimes together with financial institution fraud, three counts of wire fraud, and two counts of cash laundering, in line with a press launch from the Northern District of California.

Ford, 57, of Monterey, operated Aqua Terra Culinary, Inc., a catering firm in Pacific Grove he launched in 2010. Earlier than beginning Aqua Terra, Ford was the manager chef at Ventana Inn & Spa in Huge Sur, in addition to on the Portola Cafe on the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Through the pandemic, Ford utilized for and acquired loans and grants from the Paycheck Safety Program, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and the Financial Damage Catastrophe Mortgage Program, totaling about $4 million.

The indictment says Ford obtained the funds through the use of false and fraudulent representations, guarantees and omissions, and hid materials information. It alleges that Ford used the COVID-19 mortgage and grant cash to buy actual property properties within the nation of Belize, to spend money on the inventory market, and to fund a unique enterprise enterprise as a substitute of utilizing the mortgage cash for correct bills, reminiscent of payroll prices, hire or mortgage funds, and provides.

The Coronavirus Support, Aid, and Financial Safety Act was a federal legislation enacted in or round March 2020, when the pandemic was taking off, and designed to supply emergency monetary help to hundreds of thousands of Individuals struggling the financial results of the disaster. A supply of reduction from the CARES Act was the authorization of as much as $349 billion in forgivable loans to small companies for job retention and sure different bills by way of the Payroll Safety Program.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund appropriating $28.6 billion to the Small Enterprise Administration for making grants. The SBA awarded funding by way of the RRF to eating places, bars, and related companies serving food and drinks, in line with the discharge. The aim of the funding was to supply help to eligible entities that suffered income losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated mitigation sources.

The Financial Damage Catastrophe Mortgage program is a Small Enterprise Administration program that offered low-interest financing to small companies, renters, and owners in areas affected by declared disasters.

An indictment alleges that crimes have been dedicated, and all defendants are presumed harmless till confirmed responsible past an inexpensive doubt, says the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace, Northern California District. If convicted, Ford faces a most statutory sentence of 30 years in jail and a most statutory fantastic of $1 million for financial institution fraud, a most statutory sentence of 20 years in jail and a most statutory fantastic of $250,000 for every depend of wire fraud, and a most statutory sentence of 10 years in jail and a most statutory fantastic of $250,000 for each counts of cash laundering. Nonetheless, any sentence following conviction can be imposed by the court docket after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Tips and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence.

A statutory most is the very best quantity an individual can obtain.

Ford’s subsequent look in court docket is scheduled for Wednesday earlier than Virginia Ok. DeMarchi, United States Justice of the Peace Decide for the Northern District of California.

Assistant United States Lawyer Neal C. Hong is prosecuting the case. The prosecution is a results of an investigation by Felony Investigations and Small Enterprise Administration Workplace of Inspector Basic.