A local business owner and former congressional candidate pleaded guilty to Wire Fraud and Falsification of Records.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 36-year-old Nicholas Jones of Boise used COVID-19 relief funds for personal expenditures and faked documents to conceal money.
Jones is the owner of Fantastic Games, a game store with a location in downtown Boise and another in Meridian.
In 2020, Jones ran for congress and lost in the Republican primary against U.S. Representative Russ Fulcher.
The DOJ says in 2020, Jones received a total of $753,600 in COVID-19 relief funds, including money from the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. He used the money for car payments, life insurance policies, political advertisements, and other personal uses instead of business-related expenditures, according to a news release.
The release also states that during Jones’ 2020 campaign, he told his business employees that they could continue to be paid their normal wages if they worked on his congressional campaign. They did and then he paid them through his small business, part of which was through PPP funds. After losing the election, Jones’ campaign finance report filed with the FEC omitted any in-kind contributions from any person or entity other than Jones, including “the thousands of dollars of in-kind contributions to his campaign in the form of employee time and work.”
Jones has yet to be sentenced. He’s facing a maximum of 40 years in prison.