Feds: Pizza shop owner claimed jobless benefits

Dana McIntyre

BEVERLY — Federal prosecutors are now alleging that on top of defrauding the federal loan program for small businesses to continue making their payroll during the coronavirus pandemic last year, Dana McIntyre was also collecting unemployment benefits through another state-run relief program. 

McIntyre was indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday on four counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering, charges stemming from several alleged schemes to defraud the government in the midst of a pandemic that was shuttering places such as restaurants, salons and entertainment venues.

Earlier this month, he was arrested and charged after an investigation revealed he obtained $661,615 in Payroll Protection Program funding by claiming he had 47 employees and a payroll topping $1.5 million a year at his Cabot Street pizza shop, Rasta Pasta Pizzeria, then used the money to start an alpaca farm in Vermont. The indictments handed up Tuesday include those allegations, as well as a count of wire fraud for what prosecutors allege was a scheme to claim unemployment benefits from another CARES Act program.

The indictment says that between April and September 2020, McIntyre collected more than $17,000 in unemployment benefits through a federally funded but state-run program that was intended to help workers who ordinarily wouldn’t qualify for benefits. 

That program in Massachusetts provided up to $855 a week, plus an additional benefit of $600 per week. (It was later reduced to $300 a week.) 

The indictments were not unexpected after McIntyre’s lawyer, Brad Bailey, waived a probable cause hearing earlier this month.

“The indictment having just been returned, my client has not yet been arraigned,” Bailey said in response to a request for comment. “When he is, he will plead not guilty. He is looking forward to upcoming opportunities to respond to, dispute, and rebut the accusations pending against him in a court of law. In the meantime, he asks that his case not be ‘tried in the media’ and there be no rush to judgment. I expect to have more to say about the allegations, as well as comments about the good man and citizen he is, when and where appropriate.”

In his application filed with the state Department of Unemployment Assistance, McIntyre claimed he earned no income since the end of March 2020, according to the indictment. 

But prosecutors say he was continuing to draw a salary. 

Because the state used a server in Colorado to process the transactions, prosecutors charged McIntyre federally with wire fraud.

McIntyre later sold the pizza business to new owners and moved to Grafton, Vermont, where he was opening the alpaca farm when he was arrested. 

Prosecutors also sought and obtained a series of forfeiture counts against McIntyre in the indictment, looking to seize that farm, at least eight live alpacas purchased between September and December, $109,000 left in a Vermont bank account and a 1950 Hudson.

McIntyre was released on an unsecured bond shortly after his arrest. 

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis. 

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