IRS agents seized a yacht, luxury cars, thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and a 100-year-old Ty Cobb baseball card from a Springfield restaurateur who is accused of fraudulently using Paycheck Protection Program money to help finance his lifestyle.
John Michael Felts — whose restaurant ventures include Bourbon & Beale, Hot Cluckers and Taco Habitat — has been facing a lawsuit since September related to his use of federal funds that were intended to help small businesses stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, the federal government filed a complaint for forfeiture seeking to take possession of Felts’ boat, cars, jewelry and other property they say was paid for in part with fraudulently obtained PPP money.
The complaint alleges that Felts applied for 12 PPP loans using several different companies under his ownership or control. The feds say felt song in the applications about his companies having employees and being operational when in reality that was not the case for most of his businesses.
The complaint says Felts also applied for 13 PPP loans using fake identities.
The federal government says Felts then used the PPP money he received to buy the cars, boat and jewelry, which were not authorized expenses under the program.
The full list of property seized by the IRS in this case includes a 2020 Lexus RX350, two 2020 Ford Transit Vans, a 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, a 2018 Cadillac CT6, a 2021 Subaru Outback, a 2021 Galeon 470SKY yacht, a platinum wedding band , two silver bracelets, a white gold diamond bracelet, diamond stud earrings, two Rolex watches, a 1952 Jackie Robinson baseball card, a 1909-1911 Ty Cobb baseball card, and two Larry Bird, Julius Irving and Magic Johnson signed collectors cards.
More:Feds allege Springfield restaurant owner fraudulently used PPP funds for home improvements
Since the government’s first lawsuit against Felts in September, restaurants Hot Cluckers and Bourbon & Beale have closed.
More than 10,500 PPP loans were approved in Greene County during the pandemic, totaling $769 million. Of those loans, more than 10,200 (worth $762 million) were forgiven. Federal officials over the last two years have aimed to track prominent cases of fraud involving the loan money.
Felts does not appear to be facing any criminal charges related to the PPP fraud allegations. His attorney, Abe McGull, did not immediately respond to a phone message Friday seeking comment for this report.
In September, McGull told the News-Leader that the IRS was seeking information regarding Felts’s dealings with an individual out of San Antonio, Texas.