Boston GP continues to give IndyCar a black eye (Update)

The former chief financial officer of the failed IndyCar Boston Grand Prix pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Boston in connection to schemes to defraud equipment and small business financing companies as well as the Small Business Administration and the Internal Revenue Service reports WCVB5/ABC.

John F. Casey, 57, formerly of Ipswich, pleaded guilty to 23 counts of wire fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft, four counts of money laundering and three counts of filing false tax returns, federal prosecutors said.

Casey became the CFO of the Boston Grand Prix in January 2015.

Boston CFO John Casey was as crooked as they come according to Lawyer Gary W. Cruickshank. Where did IndyCar dig him up from?

Federal prosecutors said during the coronavirus pandemic, Casey orchestrated a scheme to fraudulently obtain economic injury disaster loans and paycheck protection program loans from the SBA and a Massachusetts sector-specific relief grant by submitting false applications for companies he created and controlled and improperly using the fraudulently obtained loan and grant funds for personal expenses.

They accused Casey of submitting at least 14 loan applications to the SBA and intermediary lenders which contained false information.

Federal authorities said between April 2020 and April 2021, approximately $676,552 in COVID-19 relief funds was deposited into bank accounts controlled by Casey. They claim he used the vast majority of the funds for personal expenses, including a three-carat diamond ring, a six-month membership to Match.com, private school tuition, residential rent payments, living expenses, payments on personal credit card accounts, restaurant meals, car payments and luxury hotel stays.

Casey also pleaded guilty to laundering the proceeds of his fraud schemes and to failing to include the income from the Peabody rink fraud scheme on his 2014, 2015 and 2016 personal federal tax returns.

Casey faces significant prison time when he is scheduled to be sentenced in mid-February.


October 22, 2021 

A new bankruptcy filing accuses the chief financial officer of Boston’s failed IndyCar race of the “systematic looting” of the company and running its finances as his personal “piggy bank” — claims vigorously disputed by the targeted executive.

Lawyer Gary W. Cruickshank, trustee for Boston Grand Prix during its bankruptcy, yesterday filed a motion seeking to recover money from John Casey, the CFO.

“Casey used BGP as his personal piggy bank, paying hundreds of thousands dollars for personal expenses, including for tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars for personal expenses charged on personal credit cards, diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars into a bank account he controlled, transferring tens of thousands of dollars to related entities, and failing to account for hundreds of thousands of additional dollars disbursed by BGP,” Cruickshank wrote in his filing to U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Casey said the claims involve “a lot of hyperbole.”

“This is absolute nonsense,” Casey told the Herald last night.

“I have no concern about this whatsoever. If I have to go to court and fight this, then I’ll go to court. I will be exonerated. Accounting is not an art. It’s a science.”
After plans for the race fell apart earlier this year amid finger-pointing by city officials and IndyCar, Boston Grand Prix filed for bankruptcy in July, while still owing ticket holders $1.6 million.

Cruickshank wrote, “Casey never hired a bookkeeper for the Debtor or even purchased bookkeeping software to track the Debtor’s income and expenses. Casey testified that he kept track of accounts payable in his head.”

Casey denied that, saying he used a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the organization’s finances.

Cruickshank’s filing claims Casey also used checks drawn on Boston Grand Prix bank accounts to pay, among other things, $22,172 for his personal Porsche, $20,000 for his son’s BMW, $124,391.90 in personal credit card payments and $92,222.83 toward the mortgage on his Boxford home.

Casey said he had an unorthodox contract with Boston Grand Prix that allowed him to pay for personal expenses in lieu of salary.

On top of this, the filing said there are $862,580 in disbursements for which there is no documentation, claims Casey also disputes.

“I’m standing my ground here,” he said. “I’m not giving an inch.” Boston Herald


December 14, 2016 

As lawyers comb through the rubble of the Boston IndyCar race that never happened, 5 Investigates has learned exclusive new details about how the millions of dollars raised to put on the race virtually disappeared writes Karen Anderson & Jonathan Wells/wcvb.com.

We were the only reporters in bankruptcy court for three days of hearings that laid bare the inner workings of the failed IndyCar extravaganza.

It was going to be an event never before seen in Boston — a live IndyCar race right in the middle of the Seaport District over Labor Day Weekend.

But Boston Grand Prix crashed and burned last spring, and now CEO John Casey is forced to explain in U.S. Bankruptcy Court what happened to all the money raised to put the race on.

“I poured my heart and soul into this,” Casey told 5 Investigates. But that’s not all he did.

In three days of testimony, Casey described a company spending millions with little or no oversight or traditional accounting, involving large sums of money raised from investors, sponsors and ticket buyers.

By the time the race was abruptly canceled last spring, the company had virtually nothing left in its bank accounts.

So where did all the money go? Records show the company spent nearly $20,000 on luxury boxes at the Boston Garden for a Bruins game and a Bruce Springsteen concert, as well as money for junkets to Indy races in California and Florida.

“I wasn’t paid that much money,” Casey told 5 Investigates back in June, but under oath before the bankruptcy trustees’ attorney, he said he paid himself more than $608,166 and claimed he is still owed another $377,834.

That would amount to nearly $1 million in compensation for Casey for over 18 months.

Casey also testified he regularly paid his own personal bills out of company bank accounts,including $8,200 dollars for his personal home mortgage and a legal bill paid on his behalf to a lawyer in Utah.

Boston Grand Prix also paid for Casey’s Porsche, which he is still driving, $6,000 for two business suits and $2,500 for a Boston College Club membership.

The company even paid off a debt for one of Casey’s other businesses, Laser Leasing, which had nothing to do with the race.

He claimed in testimony that these and other payments on his behalf were actually part of his compensation.

According to Casey, Boston Grand Prix had also paid personal bills for his predecessor, former race CEO Mark Perrone, including his back taxes and payments on a Mercedes.

Other information revealed in the bankruptcy hearings included a $200,000 gift letter from Boston Grand Prix to one of its female employees.

A gift letter is exactly that — a gift, not a loan — typically used in the purchase of real estate.

When asked about the gift letter by the trustee’s attorney, Casey said, “I have never seen this before in my life,” but testified the employee who received it is “a cousin of an old girlfriend.”

Casey also revealed Boston Grand Prix withheld taxes from its employees’ paychecks, but never paid that money to the state and federal government.

And that brings us to Casey’s accounting, the sum total of which was just one seven-page spreadsheet, obtained by 5 Investigates, with none of the transactions dated.

That led to these questions from the bankruptcy trustee’s attorney.

Attorney: “There were no other books and records that Boston Grand Prix kept for the company?”

Casey: “No.”

Attorney: “Did you keep a log of invoices that came in?”

Casey: “No, I did not.”

Attorney: “So you kept a list of accounts payable in your head?”

Casey: “Yes.”

“It’s extremely unusual for a chief financial officer that’s got cash flow in and out of millions of dollars to not keep books and records,” said attorney David Lurie, who represents the Coalition Against IndyCar Boston.

Asked what went through his mind as he listened to three days of Casey’s testimony, Lurie said, “What a sham. What an utter sham that this money was used for personal purposes and nobody was watching it. Nobody at Boston Grand Prix. Nobody at the city. Nobody at the state level and it was truly a house of cards.”

Questions in the hearing also put a spotlight on individuals who had been paid by the race promoters specifically to gain access to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

The focus was on two men — Dan Passacantilli and Chris Keohan — who own consulting firms and who both had access to the mayor.

According to Casey, Boston Grand Prix paid them to, among other things, secure the support of Walsh for the IndyCar race.

Casey testified in the bankruptcy hearing that Keohan and Passacantilli were given ownership shares in the race and paid because organizers believed they could get the mayor’s ear.

Casey said Passacantilli was paid $42,000 to lobby the mayor’s office.

The bankruptcy trustee’s attorney questioning Casey asked, “Why was he chosen for the job?”

Casey answered, “Because his brother is the mayor’s advisor.”

His brother is Stephen Passacantilli, who at the time was an advisor to Walsh and who later landed another city job, as a director of operations at the Boston Transportation Department.

But the mayor’s office claims Stephen Passacantilli had no involvement with Boston Grand Prix.

Chris Keohan, a registered lobbyist, owns CK Strategies, which Casey said was given a 3 percent ownership stake in Boston Grand Prix and paid $137,000 for lobbying, public relations and community outreach.

Under questioning by the attorney for the bankruptcy trustee, Casey testified that “the conduit between myself and the mayor has always been Chris Keohan.”

Attorney: “What connection does he have to the mayor?

Casey: “I believe he ran the mayor’s campaign.”

Keohan told 5 Investigates his company is “retained by clients because of the quality of services …” and “Those factors go far beyond our network of former clients and include strong relationships statewide.”

Keohan also said Casey had no part in their hiring because he was not yet part of Boston Grand Prix.

Attorney David Lurie still has concerns.

“Lobbyists were hired — people who were friendly with the mayor, who had previously worked for the mayor — and John Casey testified they were his conduit to the mayor,” Lurie said. “It turns out some of them actually had ownership interests in the race that were not publicly disclosed.”

We asked Lurie why people should be bothered that Passacantilli and Keohan did not disclose their ownership stakes in the race.

“It’s not the sort of transparent government that you want to see happen,” Lurie said.

We asked Walsh if Boston Grand Prix was able to buy access to his office.

“Boston Grand Prix failed. It didn’t happen,” Walsh said. “So I don’t know what kind of access it is.”

The mayor said the only lack of transparency was with John Casey himself.

“I give no one special treatment, and I certainly wasn’t going to give consultants to BGP special treatment,” he said.

The mayor also said he is glad details are coming out on how Boston Grand Prix was operated.

There is no indication of any wrongdoing with how the consultants were paid.

We could not reach Dan Passacantilli for comment. Karen Anderson & Jonathan Wells/wcvb.com

 

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