Pa. Man accused of using $400,000 in COVID relief funds to buy house in Alabama

WILLIAMSPORT — A Tioga County businessman has been charged with using $420,000 in government COVID-19 relief funds to buy a home for himself and his wife in Alabama.

Nicholas Perkins, 57 of Wellsboro, is charged in an unsealed indictment Tuesday in United States Intermediate District Court with wire fraud, illegal money transactions, bank fraud and false loan applications.

According to the charges, Perkins, as the owner of Well Versed Oilfield Services, applied for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and, in April 2020, received $465,786 from the Small Business Administration.

The PPP program was part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act designed to provide emergency financial assistance to businesses during the pandemic.

Proceeds from the loan were allowed to be used for employee payroll, mortgage interest, utility rental charges.

The indictment alleges that Perkins did the following in 2020:

In May he signed a purchase agreement to buy a house on Dauphin Island in Alabama for around $850,000 and the following month he and his wife signed a mortgage application for $450,000.

On July 1, by writing two checks, he transferred $420,000 from the PPP loan account to himself, then transferred that amount to the title company that handled the home purchase.

In December, he submitted documents to a bank which falsely indicated that the money had been used for authorized expenses. A month later, the SBA provided the lender with funds to cancel the loan.

The government is seeking forfeiture of the Alabama home if Perkins is found guilty.

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