A Windermere man who was convicted of perpetrating a $179 million fraud scheme pled guilty to another scheme in which he stole $20 million in order to flee the country before he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Nikesh Ajay Patel, 38, pled guilty to an indictment charging him with 13 counts related to almost $20 million in fraud that he perpetrated while on federal pretrial release, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.
According to court records, in 2014, Patel was charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Illinois for his role in creating and executing a $179 million fraud scheme. At the time, he was arrested and released on bond.
Over the course of the next several years, Patel claimed that he was cooperating with authorities and was using his business acumen to obtain funds to repay some of the money that he owed. According to authorities, Patel was actually devising a new scheme that generated almost $20 million in proceeds.
Court records show that Patel fabricated fraudulent loan documents and falsely represented that a bank in Miami had authorized loans to convert hotels in rural areas into assisted living facilities. The bank in Miami never made any of the loans, and the person listed as the signer on the loans (“Ron Elias”) was a fake identity used by Patel.
Patel then applied to the United States of Department of Agriculture to guarantee the fake loans through the USDA’s Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program. After the USDA guaranteed the fake loans, Patel sold the guaranteed portion of the fake loans to the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation.
Patel executed the same scheme on three separate occasions and received nearly $20 million in proceeds. He used a portion of the funds from the scheme to pay some of his restitution, but saved much of it to flee the United States.
Patel was scheduled to be sentenced in his 2014 case on January 9, 2018. On January 6, 2018, he was arrested at an airport in Kissimmee. Patel had chartered a flight to Ecuador, where he planned on requesting political asylum and living off the proceeds that he obtained from the new scheme.
Instead, Patel’s bond was revoked and he was transported by U.S. Marshals to the Northern District of Illinois. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison for that case on March 6, 2018.
For the $ 20 million scheme, Patel has pled guilty to 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. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison for each count of conspiracy and wire fraud, and up to 20 years’ imprisonment for each money laundering count. His sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.