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Akron man charged with fraud, buying house and car with drug money and fraudulent COVID-19 relief funds

Nicholas Crawford is accused of committing wire fraud to cover up a trail of drug money and submitting a fraudulent application for COVID-19 relief funds.
Credit: yuriygolub - stock.adobe.com
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CLEVELAND — An Akron man was indicted on federal charges for allegedly using funds from drug sales, a wire fraud scheme and a fraudulent COVID-19 relief fund application to purchase a house and a Tesla car, the U.S. Department of Justice announced today.

40-year-old Nicholas Crawford was charged with 23 counts of money laundering, one count of wire fraud, one count of theft of government funds and one count of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity, according to a release from the office of Michelle M. Baeppler, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

Crawford is accused of engaging in a series of wire and electronic transfers in June of 2018 to hide the fact that his money was obtained through drug trafficking. He then allegedly used that money to purchase a house in Akron for $325,000. 

On a separate occasion in July 2020, Crawford allegedly submitted a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan with false information in order to fraudulently receive money intended mainly for small businesses who suffered substantial economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crawford allegedly used those fraudulently obtained funds, along with drug trafficking profits, to purchase a 2020 Tesla Model X in December 2020. 

Crawford will be arraigned today before Judge Donald C. Nugent in Cleveland. Crawford's indictment is not evidence of guilt; he will receive a trial at a later date. 

The case was investigated by the FBI, IRS and Akron Police Department and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Damoun Delaviz. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above previously aired on 3News on Aug. 3, 2022.

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