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

A California man was arrested and ordered held without bond on Thursday for fraudulently obtaining some $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 neighbourhood 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.

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.

The PPP loans were part of the unprecedented $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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