BOISE – A former U.S. Congressional candidate was sentenced on Wednesday to 30 months in prison for his scheme to use COVID-19 relief funds for personal expenditures and filing a false report with the Federal Elections Commission by concealing thousands of dollars of in-kind contributions by employees.
36-year-old Nicholas Jones, of Boise, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and falsification of records on June 1. In addition to the prison sentence, Jones was also ordered to pay a $100,000 fine and $90,564.84 in restitution.
According to court documents, Jones was a small business owner who applied for and received $753,600 in COVID-19 relief funds, primarily from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Despite certifying that the funds would only be used for business-related expenditures, Jones used a significant portion of these funds for personal expenses, including car payments, life insurance policies, and political advertisements.
According to court documents, in 2020, Jones ran as a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives and told employees of his small business that they could continue to be paid their normal wages if they worked on his congressional campaign. Employees reported to work on behalf of Jones’s congressional campaign and were paid thousands of dollars in wages through Jones’s small business including, in part, with funds Jones had received as part of a PPP loan. After losing the primary election, Jones caused his campaign committee to file a campaign finance report with the FEC that omitted any in-kind contributions from any entity or individual other than Jones, including the thousands of dollars of in-kind contributions to his campaign in the form of employee time and work.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit for the District of Idaho, and Special Agent in Charge Dennis Rice of the FBI Salt Lake City Field Office made the announcement.
The FBI investigated the case.