Five Atlanta Residents Charged with Fraud in Alleged COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program Scheme

 

Federal officials in Atlanta charged 22 people nationwide, including Georgia, with wire fraud conspiracy and other charges in an alleged scheme to obtain nearly $4 million in COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

This, according to a press release that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia published this week.

“According to U.S. Attorney [Kurt] Erskine, the indictments, and other information presented in court: From April 2020 through August 2020, the conspirators in the scheme allegedly submitted, or assisted in the submission of, PPP loan applications on behalf of 22 businesses. In connection with the scheme, defendant Richard Mahee allegedly directed defendant Mark Mason to fabricate documents on behalf of individuals that Mahee identified so they could apply for and receive PPP loans. Mason allegedly communicated with the purported business owners about the loan amount they wanted to receive, and then fabricated tax documents and other supporting documents to submit with the PPP loan application to support that amount,” the press release said.

“For their work on the PPP loan applications, Mason and Mahee allegedly received a percentage of the funded loan amount as a ‘success fee’ from each purported business owner. Mason then allegedly began fabricating documents to support fraudulent PPP loan applications for other individuals. These individuals allegedly communicated with Mason about the loan amount they wanted to receive, submitted loan applications with the supporting documents Mason created, and then paid Mason a percentage of the funded loan amount.”

Mason, 49, of Atlanta, Georgia, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering in connection with his involvement in the loans obtained by M&N Enterprise LLC, d/b/a Atlanta Business Capital and Advocate Business Capital LLC.  As part of his guilty plea, Mason admitted his participation in fraudulent conduct totaling between $3.5 million and $9.5 million, according to the press release.

In addition to the charges against Mason, federal officials charged four other Atlanta-based defendants:

• Marvin Lewton, 57, of Atlanta, Georgia, charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud in connection with his involvement in the loan obtained by his business, Powers Transport Group LLC, and the loan application filed for his business, DirtySouthHipHop Online Media Group LLC.

• Dondre Berry, 41, of Atlanta, Georgia, charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud in connection with his involvement in the loan obtained by his business, Houzzit Inc.

• Brittany Shearod, 32, of Atlanta, Georgia, charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud in connection with her involvement in the loan obtained by her business, Bez Knows Talent LLC.

• Michael McGee Jr., 32, of Atlanta, Georgia, charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering in connection with his involvement in the loan obtained by his business, Arc Michael Logistics LLC.

Authorities charged Mahee, 49, of Princeton Junction, New Jersey, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud in connection with his involvement in the loan obtained by his business, ARG Media LLC, and several other businesses’ loans, according to the press release.

The other 16 people charged live in Colorado, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, California, Florida, Alabama, and Arizona, the press release said.

– – –

Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star and The Georgia Star News. Follow Chris on Facebook, Twitter, Parler, and GETTR. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “PPP First Draw Borrower Application Form” by U.S. Small Business Administration. Background Photo “Courtroom” by Karen Neoh. CC BY 2.0.

 

 

Related posts

Comments