IPSWICH — The Ipswich man behind the failed Boston Grand Prix racing event five years ago is facing at least two years in prison, after pleading guilty Thursday to numerous fraud, identity theft and money laundering charges — including some related to the CARES Act.

John F. Casey, 57, was committing some of the crimes even while under house arrest in an indictment handed up last year, a federal prosecutor said during a plea hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Allison Burroughs.

Casey pleaded guilty to a total of 33 counts arising from three separate schemes, during Thursday’s hearing, which was conducted remotely due to undisclosed health issues Casey is said to be suffering.

The first two schemes involved his failure to report on his tax returns more than $900,000 in salary he took as the CEO of Boston Grand Prix, the planned Indy Car-style racing event he tried to bring to the Seaport District in 2016, and a scheme to defraud leasing companies and lenders by purporting to still own a Peabody ice rink he’d sold in 2016.

He was indicted in those cases last fall.

But even as he was being investigated in those cases, Casey had found a new avenue for fraud — the CARES Act, prosecutor Kristina Barclay told the judge.

That fraud began within days of the passage of the act, in March 2020, said the prosecutor, and netted Casey more than $676,000.

Barclay said Casey provided lenders and the SBA with false information about several corporate entities, some of which he created using the names of others — New Hampshire records show that one company, called “Now Potty LLC,” was set up in the name of his son and his girlfriend in June 2020 — to obtain Economic Injury Disaster Loans, Payroll Protection Program funds, and Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation loans.

Casey was still seeking funds for the companies he’d set up both before and after his indictment last year, Barclay told the judge, including several equipment leasing companies, a business called Practice Solutions, another business called Mind Body Wellness, and Now Potty, which according to the New Hampshire Secretary of State was manufacturing coated paper bags.

Barclay told the judge that Casey used the fraudulently-obtained funds to purchase a three-carat oval diamond and gold ring for his girlfriend, a six-month membership to a dating website, private school tuition payments, restaurants, luxury hotels and car payments.

After the CARES Act fraud came to light, prosecutors and Casey’s attorney negotiated a plea agreement under which he would plead guilty to a superseding complaint, waiving his right to be indicted on the additional fraud charges.

Twice, Casey told the judge he was pleading guilty to protect his family.

When Burroughs asked if there had been any rewards, promises or inducements to plead guilty — a standard question of anyone entering a guilty plea — Casey told the judge, “My family will be left alone. The government will not go after any member of my family.”

He also told the judge he believed that the government would not seek forfeiture of an insurance policy — a point disputed by the prosecutor.

His court-appointed attorney, Jessica Thrall of the federal defender’s office, told the judge that Casey appeared to be speaking more generally than about any specific terms in the plea agreement.

Casey will be required to forfeit that diamond ring, however, and pay nearly $2 million in restitution, a figure that includes more than $600,000 in back taxes and penalties for the Grand Prix salary he did not report on his taxes.

The government has also seized three bank accounts. The agreement will make Casey civilly liable to the government for any breach of the plea terms.

Casey will remain free on home confinement pending his sentencing, which is scheduled for Feb. 15, but Burroughs, acknowledging that Casey continued his fraud even while awaiting trial on the earlier charges and was at one point arrested for violating the terms of his release, had a warning: “You should be coloring completely inside the lines.”

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

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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