Furious! Talk about paying the price of a quick get there. A California man is facing a serious time behind bars for allegedly defrauding nearly $ 9 million from COVID-19 relief programs. According to the Justice Department, Andrew Marnell of Los Angeles recently pleaded guilty to two federal charges over the scheme.
“The Justice Department will use every available federal tool – including criminal, civil and administrative measures – to combat and prevent fraud related to COVID-19,” Attorney General Merrick Garland wrote in a May 2021 memo on COVID-19 Fraud enforcement task power.
Unlike the viral memes, Andrew’s PPP-funded fortune has run its course. According to court records, the 41-year-old told police he had fraudulently collected coins from seven Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans. To qualify, Andrew submitted applications that contained “false and misleading statements” about the operations and labor costs of several companies.
Andrew flew under the radar of suspicion using aliases and forged and altered documents. The paperwork path contains “fake federal tax returns and employee pay slips”.
After securing the loans, he reportedly transferred millions to his brokerage account “to make risky stock market bets.” Not only that, Andrew also blew thousands of dollars into “gambling establishments”.
According to Newsweek, the Small Business Administration is responsible for setting up the PPP in March 2020 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES). Their goal was to support companies with 500 employees or less, nonprofits, and sole proprietorships with financial needs escalated by the pandemic.
In addition to PPP loans, the CARES Act also made funds available through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL). Andrew didn’t miss the additional opportunity to cash out. He also reportedly received $ 170,000 in EIDL loans.
Still, Andrew’s plan led to an agreement. He pleaded guilty to one bank fraud and “attack on a monetary transaction with criminal proceeds”. The first charge is a heavy hitter, which means it comes with “a maximum legal sentence of 30 years”. In the second indictment, “a maximum statutory ten-year sentence is imposed”. Andrew’s sentencing is slated for February 14, 2022.
According to his plea deal, Andrew has agreed to forfeit any goodies he has collected with PPP money. That list includes “$ 1.54 million seized from multiple brokerage accounts, $ 319,298 in cash from his residence, numerous electronic devices, a Rolex Oyster watch, a Range Rover and a Ducati motorcycle.”
“We look forward to working with our federal government colleagues to bring those to justice who seek to unlawfully benefit from the pandemic,” wrote Attorney General Garland.
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