Fort Myers roofer Casey Crowther pleads guilty on two counts in fraud case; trial starts

Casey Crowther plead guilty to two counts of making a false statement to…

Fort Myers roofer Casey Crowther pleads guilty on two counts in fraud case; trial starts 1
Fort Myers roofer Casey Crowther pleads guilty on two counts in fraud case; trial starts 2

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Attorney for Casey Crowther gives statement after he is indicted for misusing PPP funds

Attorney for Casey Crowther gives statement after he is indicted for misusing PPP funds

Andrew West, News-Press

Fort Myers roofer Casey David Crowther pleaded guilty Monday to two of seven counts of a federal indictment in the fraud case against him.

A trial in the federal fraud case against Crowther then began with jury selection before Judge John Steele in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers. The judge had heard from Crowther that he was pleading guilty to counts 5 and 6 of the indictment.

Crowther could get up to 30 years in prison during sentencing, to be scheduled later.

Federal prosecutor Trent Reichling and defense attorneys Nicole Waid and Brian Dickerson began the trial about 9 a.m.  

Crowther, 35, of North Fort Myers and president of Target Roofing, is under a federal indictment for COVID-19 relief fund fraud. He pleaded not guilty to the indictment in October and faces seven counts including bank fraud, making a false statement to a lending institution, and illegal monetary transactions.

He was accused of falsely acquiring $2 million in COVID-19 relief funds, was arrested and charged Sept. 2, and released on $100,000 bond Sept. 3.

Crowther pleaded guilty on the two counts that related to mortgage fraud, telling the court that he doctored mortgage documents to make it appear he had more funds so he would qualify for a mortgage on a home on San Carlos Drive in Saint James City.

When pressed for details by Steele, Crowther said that he used his computer to change amounts on the mortgage papers and then sent them to the mortgage company, Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions of Atlanta, Georgia.

Steele said sentencing would be made at a later date and ordered a pre-sentence report. The judge noted that punishment could include prison sentences of up to 30 years, $1 million or twice the amount of the monetary gain, whichever is higher, and five years of supervised release on each count.

There would also be a forfeiture of $630,482.37 from the sale of the home in question in Saint James City.

Crowther made no deal instead opting to simply enter a guilty plea on the two counts.

Defense attorney Waid objected to prosecutors mentioning the guilty plea in their opening statement and Steele agreed. Prosecutors said they had no plans to do that but said it would likely come up during the subsequent trial.

The trial on the remaining counts was to continue Monday morning with jury selection starting after a short recess.

More: Trial in federal fraud case against North Fort Myers roofer Casey Crowther set for March 22

More: Judge in Crowther fraud case urges lawyers to ensure expected trial doesn’t exceed a week

More: Fort Myers roofer Casey David Crowther sounds off on Facebook about federal indictment

During Monday’s jury selection, pre-emptory challenges from both sides led to the dismissal of 12 of the first 16 jury members interviewed. A new group was interviewed Monday after lunch. A jury had not been seated by print deadlines.

The interviews touched on topics from boat ownership, use of PPP by some businesses, and whether jurors thought Crowther was innocent until proven guilty.

One juror, later dismissed, generated laughs when she was asked by prosecutor Michael Leeman if she was related to someone with the same at the building where he works.

She said the man mentioned was her ex-husband, but said “I was told he had passed,” she responded.

Leeman countered with “He was alive this morning,” prompting chuckling by those in the courtroom.

The court went through two groups of jurors by 4 p.m. settling on only nine of the required 12 plus two alternates. A third group of jurors was seated for questioning around 4:30 p.m.

Steele was hopeful that a jury could be seated in time for the trial to being Tuesday morning at 9.

In hearings leading up to Monday the length of the trial was a major issue.  U.S. District Court Judge John Badalamenti admonished the lawyers to keep procedures and exhibits to a minimum and requested a five-day trial. The brevity of the trial was linked to members of the jury who would be sitting basically encased by plastic barriers due to COVID-19.

Judge Steele replaced Badalamenti as the presiding judge for Crowther’s trial  in January.

Asked by Steele how federal prosecutors and defense attorneys were planning to conduct their cases Reichling said the prosecution was doing all it could to try to keep the trial fewer than five days, but could not guarantee that it would not spill over.

Defense attorney Waid said they had two or three witnesses to call.

“We’re hoping to get it done as quickly as possible,” she told Steele.

In actuality, submitted witness lists showed 16 for the defense and 25 for the prosecution.

Both agreed to stipulations — agreements on facts between the parties in a court case whereby neither party will have to prove those facts  — on a some pieces of evidence.

There were also several motions in limine made — motions to exclude anticipated prejudicial evidence before the evidence is actually offered — in the two weeks leading to the trial objecting to other pieces.

A federal grand jury indicted Crowther, alleging COVID relief fraud, on Sept. 23. There have been two superseding indictments, one contained additional counts charging Crowther with mortgage fraud.


Crowther moved earlier to dismiss the indictment, but Badalamenti issued a denial in January despite agreeing in one small area but refuting his overall arguments.

Connect with breaking news reporter Michael Braun: MichaelBraunNP (Facebook)@MichaelBraunNP (Twitter) or mbraun@news-press.com.

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Fort Myers roofer Casey Crowther pleads guilty on two counts in fraud case; trial starts 3

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