California man accused of gambling away COVID-19 relief funds in Vegas

LOS ANGELES: A California man was arrested and ordered held without bond on Thursday (Jul 17) for fraudulently obtaining about US$9 million in coronavirus relief funds and using some of the money to gamble in Las Vegas.

Andrew Marnell, 40, a resident of the Beverly Grove neighborhood of Los Angeles, allegedly submitted a number of fraudulent loan applications in relation to the coronavirus pandemic and obtained millions in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds.

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Prosecutors say he used some of the money to make risky stock market bets, and squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino and other gambling establishments in Las Vegas as recently as last weekend.

READ: US coronavirus cases shatter records and rise by 77,000 in single day

The PPP loans were part of the unprecedented US$2.2 trillion CARES Act, which provided aid for millions of Americans suffering the economic effects of the pandemic.

Authorities said Marnell, who was due back in court next Tuesday, faces up to 30 years in prison on the bank fraud charge.

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