Nicholas Jones, a thirty-six-year-old entrepreneur, and burger magnet could be spending up to forty years in prison after pleading guilty to using Covid relief funds to fuel his political campaign. Mr. Jones ran for Congress in 2020, challenging Congressman Russ Fulcher in the Idaho Republican Primary. He lost that fight and now is endanger of losing his future freedom.

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Mr. Jones, like many business owners during Covid, applied for and received federal PPP funds, otherwise known as the Paycheck Protection Program, that were to be used to keep his fledgling yet successful Good Burger Stores open. The loan total was significant at $753,600. (This story was first reported by the Idaho Statesman.)

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As part of the agreement for the loan, Mr. Jones was required to certify that the funds would be dedicated to his business. However, according to the Department of Justice press release, Mr. Jones used the funds for other expenditures. Those expenditures included personal expenses, including car payments, life insurance policies, and political advertisements.

Burger Workers Turned Campaign Operatives

As many Idaho politicos will recall, Mr. Jones challenged Congressman Fulcher for his House seat in 2020. Mr. Jones told his employees, Good Burger, and other businesses they could be paid their regular salaries working for his congressional bid to fuel his campaign. The problem was that the money to finance their salaries partially came from funds from the PPP loan.

The Department of Justice documents what happened next.

"After losing the primary election, Jones caused his campaign committee to file a campaign finance report with the FEC, which 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."

Mr.Jones will now await sentencing after pleading guilty to wire fraud and falsification of records.  He could receive a maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison. We will continue to update you on this story as it develops.

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