A GOP congressional candidate has pleaded guilty to misusing Covid relief funds intended for his employees.
He told employees of his small business that they would be paid if they worked for his campaign.
The Idaho candidate also omitted the time his employees spent on his campaign in an FEC report.
A GOP congressional candidate in Idaho pleaded guilty Wednesday to taking COVID-19 relief funds intended for his employees and using them for personal expenses like his car payments and a 2020 political campaign.
According to the Ministry of JusticeNicholas Jones, 36, also pleaded guilty to falsifying records to conceal the time and work his employees put into his campaign in a report to the Federal Election Commission.
Insider understands that Jones’ small business in Boise, Idaho is a store selling puzzles and board and board games.
Jones told employees who worked at his store that he would pay them if they worked on his campaign for Congress, the DOJ wrote in a press release.
In 2020, he applied for and received $753,600 from Covid-related assistance programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Disaster Loans.
He certified that the money would be invested in his business, but instead used a “significant portion” to pay for his car, life insurance policies and political ads for his campaign, according to the DOJ.
Jones employees would report to work on behalf of his campaign and receive thousands of dollars in salaries through his small business, in part with money he received from Covid relief packages, wrote the Department.
When he lost the primary election, Jones filed a campaign finance report with the FEC. However, he omitted contributions from anyone who worked on his campaign other than him, including the thousands of dollars of time and labor his employees spent, according to the DOJ.
Jones pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tampering with records in Idaho District Court and will be sentenced at a later date. He faces a maximum total sentence of 40 years in prison.
Jones did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.
Jones’ case is not the first time fraud and politics have intersected this year. On May 18, the creator of a bogus political action committee admitted in federal court that he defrauded donors by claiming to support former President Donald Trump’s re-election and be part of his campaign, as Insider’s Grace Panetta reported.
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