by Neil Shah
A California man was arrested on Thursday after being charged with fraudulently claiming $8.5 million in coronavirus relief funds through the Payment Protection Program (PPP) and spending hundreds of thousands at a Las Vegas casino, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.
The criminal complaint charges Andrew Marnell, 40, of Los Angeles, CA, with submitting fake documents in the PPP funding application, lying about the expenses and business operations of several businesses and using fake aliases to obtain these federal government sourced funds.
Marnell reportedly spent hundreds of thousands of this federally sourced PPP money while gambling at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and risking money on stock bets.
The PPP is a federal government resource for small businesses to obtain relief from financial issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic in order to keep operations running and employees on the payroll.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a federal law enacted in March of this year, funds the PPP with over $600 billion to provide to qualifying small businesses.
The DOJ has reported various instances of PPP-related fraud since the program’s rollout. A business owner in Little Rock reportedly obtained millions for dormant businesses not in good standing this month, and a Washington, D.C. general contractor reportedly submitted false documents to receive $400,000 in federal funds.
The court authorities indicated that Marnell is set to be back in court on Tuesday and faces up to 30 years in prison.
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Neil Shah is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.