Patrick Walsh knows about blimps. After all he is an international blimp magnate owner of Florida based AirSign AirShip Group, the world’s largest airship company. AirSign AirShip is the nation’s largest blimp manufacturer and their airships seen in the skies at such events as the Suer Bowl and the Indianapolis 500. Patrick may know about blimps, but apparently, he doesn’t know how to make fraud not look like fraud.
On September 20, 2022, in a plea deal, Walsh admitted to defrauding the government of nearly $8 million received through the COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. These are two federal loan initiatives intended to help business owners continue to pay their employees during the pandemic. Instead of using the funds towards a payroll he overstated, he bought multiple homes for his wife and eleven children! Martin used the money to pay off his 78-acre farm in Gainesville, for a down payment on a luxury ski lodge in Jackson Hole, and to buy a private two-acre island in the Gulf of Mexico known as “Sweetheart Island.”
Despite his plea deal signature on the court records and admitting to guilt of fraud, Walsh believes he has not committed a crime. To the media, Walsh says he should have relied on experienced consultants to help with his loan applications instead of taking what he called “unnecessary risks” with poor strategy. However, it doesn’t take any experienced consultant to figure out that Walsh shouldn’t have overstated the number of employees, average payroll expenses and gross revenue on PPP and EIDL applications. Or falsify IRS forms or company legitimacy. Or use his wife’s name on the loans without her knowing it. Only a fraud consultant would give Martin that kind of advice.
Shout out to the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement team on this case.
Today’s Fraud of the Day is based on an article “Florida blimp magnate pleads guilty to stealing nearly $8 million in COVID-19 pandemic aid” published by Gainsville Sun on September 14, 2022.
An international blimp magnate in north-central Florida will be sentenced in January in federal court after he pleaded guilty to defrauding the federal government of nearly $8 million in relief aid meant to help average Americans during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to court records.
Executive Patrick P. Walsh, 41, of Williston, Florida, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering at the federal courthouse in Gainesville two weeks ago. The judge allowed him to remain free until he is sentenced at the end of January.