A man from California has been arrested for reportedly gambling with $9 million obtained from the Paycheck Protection Program. Andrew Marnell is said to have fraudulently accessed the funds and then used the money to gamble in Las Vegas and make stock market trades.
The 40-year-old Marnell is facing serious consequences for his actions involving the PPP funds. He is said to have lost hundreds of thousands on the Strip, including during a visit to the Bellagio. He is facing charges of bank fraud as well as up to 30 years in prison if he is convicted. He will head back to court next week to face the charges.
From Los Angeles, Marnell completed several fraudulent applications to the program in order to obtain the funds. The Paycheck Protection Program was provided by the federal government to offer business owners relief during the coronavirus outbreak. The funds were provided to businesses to help keep employees on payroll as businesses were shut down.
Small businesses were allowed to use the program to obtain a loan from the government to keep employees. However, several reports have surfaced that suggest the program is being taken advantage of and businesses that do not qualify are obtaining funds as well as individuals such as Marnell, who access the funds illegally.
The loans of the PPP will be forgiven by the Small Business Administration if the criteria of employee retention are met. Meaning, the company must keep their employees to avoid paying the money back. For Marnell, he certainly does not fit the criteria as he used the money to gamble and buy stocks.
The coronavirus has hit the casino industry hard, causing some venues to shut down permanently. As of right now, several states have casinos back in business, but at a much lower capacity than before. This will most likely be the new norm until a vaccine is created for the virus or people start wearing masks more often and the virus becomes less of a threat.