Wei! Talk about paying the price to come quickly. A California man is facing serious charges behind bars for allegedly raising nearly $ 9 million from COVID-19 relief programs. According to the Department of Justice, Andrew Marnell of Los Angeles recently admitted at two federal costs for the scheme.
“The Department of Justice uses all available federal instruments — including criminal, civil, and administrative actions — to combat and prevent COVID-19 related fraud,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. wrote in a May 2021 memo about the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force.
Contrary to viral memes, Andrew’s PPP-funded fortune has run its course. According to court documents, the 41-year-old police officer told police he had collected counterfeit coins from seven Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans. To qualify, Andrew presented applications with “false and misleading statements” about the business operations and wage costs of various companies.
Andrew flew under the radar of the suspect with aliases and forged and altered documents. The paperwork includes “false federal tax payments and employee salaries.”
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 on “gaming machines”.
According to Newsweek, the Small Business Administration is responsible for the establishment the PPP in March 2020 on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES). Their goal was to help companies with 500 employees or less, nonprofits and sole proprietors with financial needs escalated by the pandemic.
In addition to the PPP Loans, the CARES Act also awarded money with the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL). Andrew did not miss the additional opportunity. He also had $ 170,000 in EIDL loans.
However, Andrew’s scheme led to an argument. He pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of “engaging in a monetary transaction involving criminal proceeds.” The first charge is a heavy hitter, which means it comes with “a 30 year legal maximum penalty”. Meanwhile, the second charge carries a “10-year statutory maximum penalty.” Andrew’s verdict is scheduled for February 14, 2022.
In his plea, Andrew agreed to lose all the goods he had collected with PPP money. This list includes “$ 1.54 million raised from various brokerage accounts, $ 319,298 in cash recovered 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 justify those who are illegally seeking out the pandemic,” Attorney General Garland wrote.
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