Marietta business owner defrauded $300K from COVID-19 relief program, feds say

The owner of Elevate Horizons was charged with conspiracy and making false statements.

The owner of Elevate Horizons was charged with conspiracy and making false statements.

A Marietta business owner faces federal charges after being accused of fraudulently obtaining a $300,000 loan that was meant to assist struggling small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stanley Dorceus, the owner of Elevate Horizons, was charged with conspiracy and making false statements, according to documents filed by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

Prosecutors said the scheme targeted the Payment Protection Program (PPP) within the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The act authorized hundreds of billions of dollars in forgivable loans to small businesses to help with payroll expenses, rent, utilities and interest on mortgages.

On May 10, Dorceus and his unnamed co-conspirators submitted a PPP loan application requesting $300,000 for Elevate Horizons, which was located at 1687 Cedar Bluff Way. The business, which appears to be located in a residential neighborhood, has no online presence.

According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Corporate Division, the business was founded in 2017 and is a “Domestic Limited Liability Company.” No further information about the business’ function was available.

In the application, Dorceus falsely claimed that his business had an average monthly payroll of $120,000 and 16 employees, the documents said. He’s also accused of saying he claimed he paid $358,819 in wages, tips and compensation during the first quarter of 2019. However, Elevate Horizons didn’t make any quarterly tax filings in 2019, according to prosecutors.

The application was approved by a bank in Salt Lake City, which wired Elevate Horizons the money, the documents said. Later in May, Dorceus wrote several checks to people who “were not eligible to receive funds from the PPP loan,” the documents said.

Dorceus also wrote checks to himself, totaling about $20,780, the documents said. Prosecutors added that Dorceus wrote someone an $8,333.33 check from the PPP loan in return for a $7,500 check.

“The object of the conspiracy was for Dorceus and his co-conspirators to fraudulently obtain Paycheck Protection Program loans for themselves, and to conceal the conspiracy,” prosecutors said.

If convicted, Dorceus will have to forfeit all the money obtained in the loan in addition to $92,170.15 that was seized from an Elevate Horizons bank account, the documents said.

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