Central Florida man charged with nearly $20 million in fraud | USAO-MDFL

Orlando, Florida – U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Nikesh Ajay Patel (38, formerly of Orlando) has been indicted on charges related to nearly $20 million in fraud he perpetrated during his federal bail. Patel was charged with 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. Patel faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for each count of conspiracy and wire fraud and up to 20 years in federal prison for each count of money laundering. His trial is currently scheduled for the April 2022 trial period.

According to court documents, in 2014 Patel, a resident of Central Florida, was indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois for a $179 million fraudulent scheme. He was arrested and released on bail. Over the next few years, Patel claimed he cooperated with authorities and used his business skills to secure funds to pay off some of what he owed. In fact, Patel had devised a new scheme that earned him almost $20 million.

Patel’s new fraud scheme had three components. First, Patel fabricated fraudulent loan documents that misrepresented that a Miami bank had authorized loans to convert hotels in rural areas into assisted living facilities. Although the Miami bank exists, it had never made any of the loans. The person who was on the list of loan signatories (“Ron Elias”) does not exist, but was a fictitious identity used by Patel to carry out his plot and scheme. Second, Patel asked the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to guarantee the bogus loans under its Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program. Third, after the USDA agreed to guarantee the fake loans, Patel sold the secured portion of the fake loans to the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, also known as Farmer Mac.

Patel performed the scheme three times, receiving nearly $20 million in proceeds. Patel used some of the funds from this program to pay for part of his restitution, but he was saving much of it to flee the United States.

Patel’s sentencing in the Northern District of Illinois was set for January 9, 2018. Three days earlier, Patel was arrested at the Kissimmee airport. Patel had chartered a flight to Ecuador where he would seek political asylum and live on the profits he had obtained from his new project. Instead, Patel’s bail was revoked and the U.S. Marshals Service transported him to the Northern District of Illinois. On March 6, 2018, Patel was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for his case in the Northern District of Illinois.

Patel’s indictment in the Central District of Florida relates to the fraud conspiracy and scheme he carried out while on bail.

An indictment is simply a formal accusation that an accused has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and each accused is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General. He is being prosecuted by US Attorney Roger B. Handberg.