Man gets 2-year prison sentence in pandemic fraud case to buy alpaca farm

BOSTON (AP) — A former pizzeria owner has been sentenced to two years in prison for using over $660,000 in fraudulently obtained pandemic relief funds to buy an alpaca farm.

In 2020, Dana McIntyre, 59, of Grafton, Vermont, submitted a fraudulent application for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, prosecutors said. He inflated information about the pizzeria's employees and payroll expenses and falsified a tax form to try to qualify the business for a larger loan amount.

After receiving the loan, McIntyre, formerly of Massachusetts, sold his pizzeria and used nearly all of the money to buy an alpaca farm in Vermont and eight alpacas, the U.S. attorney's office in Boston said. He also paid for two vehicles and weekly airtime for a cryptocurrency-themed radio show that he hosted, prosecutors said.

He was arrested in 2021.

“Dana McIntyre capitalized on a national catastrophe and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a limited pool of money set aside to help struggling businesses, to buy a farm, stock it with alpacas, and make a fresh start for himself in Vermont,” Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division, said in a statement.

During his sentencing Wednesday, McIntyre also was ordered to pay the money back. He pleaded guilty in April to four counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering.

His lawyers had asked for a one-year prison sentence.

In his sentencing memorandum, they said McIntyre was a single father of two children whose pizzeria was barely profitable before the pandemic, and that he became susceptible to the fear and uncertainty of the times.