The FINANCIAL –United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Nikesh Ajay Patel (38, formerly from Orlando) has been arraigned on charges related to almost $20 million in fraud that he perpetrated while on federal pretrial release. Patel has been 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 penalty 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 term.
According to court documents, in 2014, Patel, a Central Florida resident, was charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois for a $179 million fraud scheme. He 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.
Patel’s new fraud scheme involved three parts. First, Patel 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”) does not exist, but was a fictitious identity used by Patel to perpetrate his conspiracy and scheme. Second, Patel applied to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to guarantee the fake loans pursuant to its Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program. Third, 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. Patel 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 United States.
Patel’s sentencing in the Northern District of Illinois was set for January 9, 2018. Three days before that, Patel was arrested at the airport in Kissimmee. Patel had chartered a flight to Ecuador where he was going to request political asylum and live off the proceeds that he obtained from his new scheme. Instead, Patel’s bond 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 Middle District of Florida relates to the conspiracy and fraud scheme that he executed while on he was pretrial release.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg.