A Manhattan man admitted to carrying out a fraudulent scheme to obtain $6.9 million in government-guaranteed loans that were designed to provide relief to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marcus Frazier, 48, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution. Both counts carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
“Marcus Frazier sought millions of dollars in unsecured SBA-guaranteed loans for which his businesses did not qualify,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams. “He lied about the number of people employed by his businesses, the salaries they were paid, even that these employees existed. Further, Frazier used the loan proceeds he obtained to fund his lavish lifestyle, not to pay permissible expenses. Now Marcus Frazier awaits sentencing for his admitted crimes.”
On March 29, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act was enacted by the federal government to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to court documents, between May 2020 and April 2021 Frazier submitted at least seven applications to the Small Business Administration for PPP loans for various businesses he controlled.
In these applications, Frazier had false statements regarding the number of employees of each business and the amount of payroll involved in each business, and were submitted, in many cases, alongside fake bank statements, designed to support Frazier’s claims. Among other things, these fake bank statements included fraudulent account statements for a checking account that showed balances far greater than the account actually held and that depicted payroll withdrawals that never occurred.
Frazier also submitted lists of employees on the purported payrolls of his companies, which included names and Social Security numbers that do not match the records of the Social Security Administration, suggesting that Frazier fabricated the employee records. On at least one occasion, Frazier provided documents showing that one of his companies had been in existence for approximately 10 years when in actuality the corporate entity had not been registered until in or about July 2020, months after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Frazier sought out a total of over $6.9 million in PPP loans and was awarded at least approximately $2.17 million that were spent on personal expenses rather than business expenses. Between on or about June 18, 2020, shortly after his first PPP loan was funded, and on or about April 7, 2021, Frazier used the loans to pay for $124,982 on hotels, including more than approximately $88,791 at a luxury hotel located in Miami, Florida, approximately $63,000 on restaurants and food service, $17,000 on transportation using the ride-hailing app Uber, $16,519 on airline travel, and $11,000 on clothing. Frazier also collected $21,000 in unemployment benefits.
Additionally, between in or about January 2018 and in or about November 2019, Frazier engaged in a scheme to obtain personal loans from financial institutions and in an effort to evade paying credit card debt by making false representations and sending fake documents to lenders and banks.
Frazier is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Nathan on March 1, 2022, at 3 p.m.