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Defendant purchased alpaca farm using fraudulently obtained pandemic relief funds

BOSTON – A former North Shore resident was sentenced today in connection with filing fraudulent applications for more than $660,000 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan funds and using those funds for personal expenses, including the purchase of an alpaca farm in Vermont.

Dana L. McIntyre, 59, of Grafton, Vt. and previously of Beverly and Essex, Mass., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper to two years in prison and three years of supervised release. McIntyre was also ordered to pay $679,156 in restitution and forfeiture. On April 13, 2023, McIntyre pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering. 

“Make no mistake about it, this was no momentary lapse the in fog of the pandemic. Mr. McIntyre submitted multiple bogus applications for pandemic money was supposed to provide a lifeline to small businesses and their employees during a national emergency. He stole from the American taxpayers and the many small businesses which truly needed those loans to survive,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “Just last month our office expanded the resources dedicated to investigating and prosecuting COVID fraud. Whether someone used stolen money to buy luxury goods or fancy cars or exotic farm animals, we intend to find them and hold them accountable.  

“Dana McIntyre capitalized on a national catastrophe and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a limited pool of money set aside to help struggling businesses, to buy a farm, stock it with alpacas, and make a fresh start for himself in Vermont,” said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “Today’s sentence holds him accountable for his selfish criminal conduct. The FBI will continue to aggressively pursue others like him who are using the money from this economic relief program to pad their own pockets. If you know of similar instances of fraud, please contact us at 1-800-CALL-FBI.”

“The funds made available through the Paycheck Protection Program were intended to help businesses and their employees get through the financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Mr. McIntyre’s greed betrayed the good intentions of the American taxpayer,” said Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Inspector General (OIG). “The sentencing today should serve as a reminder that if you defraud pandemic-related government assistance programs, you will be held accountable. HUD OIG will continue to work with its law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring these matters to a just conclusion.”

McIntyre is the former owner of Rasta Pasta Pizzeria in Beverly. In March 2020, McIntyre used the names of his adult children to submit two fraudulent applications to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for businesses that did not exist. Beginning in April 2020, McIntyre submitted an application and weekly certifications in order to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits. In these filings, McIntyre falsely claimed that he was not working or receiving income as a result of the pandemic, while McIntyre in fact was still operating the restaurant and paying himself income from the business. By September 2020, when McIntyre sold the restaurant, he had received over $17,000 in PUA and related benefits that he was not entitled to receive.  

In April 2020, McIntyre submitted a fraudulent application for a PPP loan of over $660,000 through an SBA-approved lender. In the application, McIntyre inflated information about the pizzeria’s employees and payroll expenses and falsified an official tax form in an effort to qualify the business for a larger loan amount. After receiving a PPP loan of over $660,000, McIntyre sold the pizzeria and used nearly all the funds to purchase a farm in Vermont, as well as eight alpacas, and other personal expenses, including two vehicles and airtime for his crypto-currency themed radio show.  

Acting U.S. Attorney Levy, FBI SAC Cohen, HUG-OIG SAC Scaringi and Harry Chavis, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David M. Holcomb and Mackenzie A. Queenin of the Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit and Carol Head, Chief of the Asset Recovery Unit, prosecuted the case.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus and https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus/combatingfraud. 

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.