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Indian-American pleads guilty to $20 million fraud while on pretrial release for another crime

New York, March 7 (IANS) A 38-year-old Indian-American has pleaded guilty to charges related to almost $20 million in fraud that he perpetrated while on federal pretrial release for another crime.

Nikesh Ajay Patel of Florida was charged with 13 counts, including one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, three counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and eight counts of money laundering.

He 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, according to a Department of Justice release.

His sentencing date has not yet been scheduled, Attorney Roger B. Handberg announced on Monday.

According to court documents, Patel, who was charged in 2014 by the US Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Illinois for a $179 million fraud scheme, was arrested and released on 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.

In fact, Patel had devised a new scheme that netted him almost $20 million.

As part of his three-part fraud scheme, Patel first fabricated fraudulent loan documents that falsely represented that a bank in Miami had authorized loans to be made to convert hotels in rural areas into assisted living facilities.

Although the bank in Miami exists, it had never made any of the loans.

The person who was listed as signing the loans (“Ron Elias”) was a fictitious identity used by Patel to perpetrate his conspiracy and scheme.

Second, Patel applied to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to guarantee the fake loans pursuant to its Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program.

Finally, after the USDA agreed to guarantee the fake loans, Patel sold the guaranteed portion of the fake loans to the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, also known as Farmer Mac.

Patel executed the scheme on three occasions, receiving almost $20 million in proceeds.

He used a portion of the funds from that scheme to pay some of his restitution, but he was saving much of it to flee the US.

Three days prior to his sentencing in the Northern District of Illinois in 2018, Patel was arrested at the airport in Kissimmee.

He had chartered a flight to Ecuador, where he intended to request political asylum and live off the proceeds that he had obtained from his new scheme.

Instead, Patel’s bond was revoked and the US Marshals Service transported him to the Northern District of Illinois.

On March 6, 2018, he was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for his case in the Northern District of Illinois.

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