Celebrities, entertainers and business leaders are among 19 people recently indicted in Georgia on charges that they defrauded the Paycheck Protection Program for a total of more than $3 million.
The seven separate indictments each link the fraudulent loan applications to a single Atlanta-based business consultant who was paid a “success fee” for each loan as it was awarded.
Among those indicted were: Ion Overman, an actress who appeared in the early-2000s TV series “Port Charles,” as well as “Desperate Housewives” and Tyler Perry’s “Madea Goes to Jail”; Carlos “Clos” Stephens, a music producer and consultant who has worked with Master P and Little Romeo; Dale Godboldo, an actor who appeared in “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” “Thor” and awards-season darling “The Year of the Dog”; and Marvin Lewton, a media personality covering hip-hop known as OG Shadi Powers.
One defendant, Mark C. Mason Jr., of Atlanta, was charged independently but also named in the six other lawsuits as an “unindicted co-conspirator,” according to court documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Mason is accused of submitting fraudulent PPP loan applications for two of his own businesses, Atlanta Business Capital and Advocate Business Capital, and receiving a total of nearly $600,000, the documents show. In the other related indictments, he is accused of assisting those defendants in submitting PPP loan applications based on false information. If the loans were awarded, he was paid a “success fee” of between 2-5%, the documents said.
In each case, the defendants are accused of submitting falsified versions of IRS Form 941 to an approved PPP lender. The form is the Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return and is used to report taxes withheld from employees’ paychecks and to pay the employer’s portion of Social Security and Medicare.
According to the indictments, the defendants would collaborate with Mason to produce fake versions of past Form 941 documents showing falsified payroll numbers. In reality, authorities said the documents had never been filed with the IRS and that Mason would allegedly submit the loan applications through a non-bank lender that updated its homepage with a “Fraud Alert” warning.
One case involves a defendant who worked as an employee for the IRS, according to the indictment. Melissa Myrick, of Florida, a Supervisory Individual Tax Advisory Specialist, is accused of providing Mason with signed PPP loan applications that were missing figures for the number of employees, average monthly payroll or requested loan amount. After discussing those figures with Myrick and other defendants, Mason would supply the agreed-upon numbers, the indictment said.
According to his LinkedIn page, Mason is the vice president of customer operations in North America for a business video conferencing company called Unytalk, in addition to being president of Atlanta Business Capital. He claims previous experience with several companies where he worked in business development and as a wholesale mortgage broker.
Mason was a running back for the University of Maryland’s football team, where he saw significant playing time all four years from 1990-1993, according to sports-reference.com. He ran for more than 1,800 yards and scored nine touchdowns during his career.
Because Mason and his businesses are based in Atlanta, all 19 defendants were charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Georgia. The businesses named in the lawsuits are located all over the country, from California to New Jersey.
The full list of those indicted includes:
- David Burge, of Tennessee, CEO and president of Elemental Comfort LLC;
- Gina Destito, of California, owner of HomePoppins.com LLC;
- Jim White, of New Jersey, owner of AJW Home Services and Design LLC;
- Richard Mahee, of New Jersey, owner and president of ARG Media LLC;
- Kristen Alexander, of Colorado;
- Morgan Brown, of Tennessee, owner and CEO of BHG LLC;
- Carlos “Clos” Stephens, of Louisiana, owner of 31 Minds LLC;
- Marvin “Shadi Powers” Lewton, of Georgia, owner of Powers Transport Group LLC and DirtySouthHipHop Online Media Group LLC;
- Dale Godboldo, of California, owner and president of Mahout Star LLC;
- Ion Overman, of California, owner of Bryanston Square Inc;
- Michael McGee Jr., of Georgia, owner of Arc Michael Logistics LLC;
- Marcos Soza, of Arizona, owner of Yes Auto Sales Inc;
- Melissa Myrick, of Florida, employee with the IRS;
- Michael Myrick, of Florida, owner of MYCO Enterprises LLC;
- Kirk Codrington, of North Carolina, owner of KC Global Enterprises Inc;
- Dereck Clark, of Florida, owner of Dee’s Landscaping LLC;
- Darius McCants, of Alabama, CEO and owner of BBF Inc;
- Dondre Berry, of Georgia, CEO and owner of Houzzit Inc;
- Mark C. Mason Jr., of Georgia, owner of Atlanta Business Capital.
— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.