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California man charged with using COVID loans to buy Ferrari

This photo provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement shows a special agent with HSI Los Angeles's El Camino Real Financial Crimes Task Force seize a Ferrari from an Orange County businessman on April 7, 2021 in Santa Ana, Calif. (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP)

IRVINE, Calif. (AP) -- A Southern California man has pleaded not guilty to charges he obtained $5 million in federal coronavirus-relief loans for phony businesses and then used the money for lavish vacations and to buy a Ferrari, Bentley and Lamborghini, prosecutors said Monday.

    Mustafa Qadiri, 38, was arrested last week on suspicion of scheming to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program, which was implemented last year to help small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Qadiri, of Irvine, pleaded not guilty Friday to multiple charges including bank fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Qadiri's attorney, Bilal A. Essayli, declined further comment Monday.

    Prosecutors said Qadiri submitted fraudulent PPP loan applications to three banks on behalf of four companies that didn't actually exist. The applications included altered bank records, fake tax returns and false information about employees, according to the indictment.

    Qadiri also used someone else's name, Social Security number and signature to fraudulently apply for one of the loans, prosecutors said.

    He received $5 million in loans that investigators said he used to pay for trips, sports cars and personal expenses.

    Federal agents have seized the Ferrari, Bentley and Lamborghini cars that Qadiri purchased, along with about $2 million from his bank accounts, prosecutors said.

    U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Staton scheduled a jury trial for June 29. Qadiri was released on $100,000 bond.

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