The Paycheck Protection Program was established in order to keep businesses afloat due to the economic ruin cause by the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some saw this program and took the opportunity to apply using fraudulent applications claiming that non-existent businesses were in need of millions of dollars in order to not go under. Surprisingly, celebrities were in on some of these scams, including Diamond “Baby Blue” Smith of Pretty Ricky who was sentenced to 20 months in prison for filing a fraudulent PPP loan application. More celebrities has been caught trying to do the same. Actress Ion Overman, who we saw in Madea Goes To Jail, The L Word and Port Charles, is among 19 celebrities and entrepreneurs who were indicted in Georgia for scamming the PPP loan program out of $3 million, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Besides Overman, others that were indicted include actor Dale Godboldo who starred in American Crime Story, Thor and The People v. OJ, media personality OG Shadi Powers and music producer Carlos Stephens, known for working with Master P’s No Limit Records.
Since news of the indictment was released, OG Shadi Powers has posted cryptic messages. In one Instagram post he captioned a photo with the scriptures Isaiah 41:9-10 and Isaiah 41:11-16 and ended it with “Don’t call me or text me with no gossip or hearsay. If anything, pray for my family.”
These 19 defendants were able to submit their fake PPP loan applications thanks to Mark C. Mason Jr, who also submitted applications for his two businesses Atlanta Business Capital and Advocate Business Capital. Besides the $600,000 he received from scheming on behalf of his companies, he received a “success fee” of two to five percent from each fraudulent PPP loan that was processed successfully. Mason Jr. and the defendants allegedly worked together to create fake IRS Form 941 documents that had fake payroll numbers and Mason Jr. submitted the applications to PPP lenders.
Mason Jr. is also accused of having a connection to an actual IRS employee, Melissa Myrick, who allegedly assisted him with this scheme. According to legal documents, Myrick gave Mason Jr. PPP loan applications that were signed but were missing information like the number of employees, the requested loan amount and average monthly payroll. Mason Jr. would fill in the blanks after talking to the defendants.
Mason Jr. is facing separate charges for his role in the scam and is also named in six lawsuits due to being a co-conspirator.