BURGES Collected Money In Fake Loan Scheme, Spent it On Luxury Travel, Fine Dining
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., today announced the guilty plea of ANTHONY BURGES, a/k/a ANTHONY SASSO, 54, for stealing more than $1.4 million from small businesses across the country through a fraudulent loan scheme. Alongside co-defendant KELLY FONTAINE , 57, BURGES targeted at least 40 small business owners, most of whom were experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic and offered them fake loans and lines of credit while pocketing upfront fees and related costs.
BURGES pleaded guilty to all counts on the November 2021 indictment, which included two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, and one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree. He will be sentenced to 3-9 years in state prison for the counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree on June 21, 2023. BURGES will also be sentenced to 2 1/3 – 7 years in prison for Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, and 1 1/3 – 4 years in prison on the Scheme to Defraud count, which will run concurrently.
During the course of the investigation, more business owners came forward to report that they were the victims of a similar scheme. Those included the owners of a beach club and two real estate companies. For that conduct, BURGES also pleaded guilty today to three counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree. He will be sentenced to 2 1/3 – 7 years in state prison on the grand larcenies, and 1 1/3 – 4 years in prison on the scheme to defraud, to run concurrent to the sentence noted above, on June 21, 2023.
“At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Anthony Burges preyed on business owners by falsely promising to help them manage costs or reduce their payments on existing debt,” said District Attorney Bragg. “Small businesses from across New York City and the country were forced to close, reduce capacity, or declare bankruptcy as a result of this heartless scheme. My Office will continue to root out fraud in all its forms, which unfortunately spread due to the financial pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, including PPP and unemployment scams.”
As admitted in his plea, beginning in February 2020, BURGES posed as the principal of a shell company called Artisan Capital Partners and told victims that he managed an exclusive club of private investors that could provide funding quickly without outside approval. BURGES then posed as the principal of three other shell companies called Interactive Capital Group, Interactive Capital LLC and Gramercy Park, LLC, and continued with a similar scheme.
While BURGES pretended to negotiate the loan amount and terms, BURGES required the small business owners to pay upfront fees, including commitment fees, due diligence fees, and attorney’s fees. The fees were wired from the victims’ accounts into bank accounts in BURGES’ control, and then transferred to the defendants’ personal accounts. BURGES spent the stolen money on accommodations and restaurants in the Hamptons and Connecticut, fine dining and cigars in New York City and New Jersey, Uber and Lyft rides, and purchases at high-end retailers such as Brooks Brothers, Tourneau, Paul Stuart, and Brunello Cucinelli.
Following negotiation, victims signed letters of intent, commitment letters, and financing agreements for funds that never materialized. In some instances, BURGES provided the victims forged a “Proof of Funding” bank statement which showed balances ranging from $3 million to $33 million, when, in fact, the bank account never had a balance greater than $100.
As time passed, BURGES offered the small business owners an array of excuses, and in several instances, sought additional fees to finalize the purported loans. BURGES never refunded the upfront fees incurred by the small business owners.
As part of the plea agreement, BURGES will be required to pay back those fees, totaling $1,397,350 to all victims involved in these cases.
The D.A.’s Office was alerted to the scheme when one of the victims contacted the Office’s Financial Frauds Helpline. If you are aware of any such schemes, please call the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Financial Frauds Bureau at 212-335-8900.
Assistant D.A.s Chike Ibeabuchi (Chief of the Housing and Tenant Protection Unit) and Luis Morales (Chief of the Immigrant Affairs Unit) are handling the prosecution of the case under the supervision of Assistant D.A.s Hope Korenstein (Deputy Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau) and Kofi Sansculotte (Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau), and Executive Assistant D.A.s Christopher Conroy (Senior Advisor to the Investigation Division) and Susan Hoffinger (Chief of the Investigation Division). The following people provided assistance with the investigation: the Financial Fraud Bureau’s Gensiana Cicero (former Investigative Analyst), Isabela Newsom (former Investigative Analyst), Netanya Pierrot (Elder Abuse Analyst), and Maeve Ronan (Investigative Analyst) ; the Litigation Support Unit’s Olivia Savell (Privilege Review Data Specialist) and former Assistant D.A. Shannon Goldberg; the Forensic Accounting & Financial Investigations Bureau’s Kristina Manganaro (former Analyst), Hermeet Kaur (Senior Analyst), Irene Serrapica (Principal Deputy Bureau Chief), and Robert Demarest (Bureau Chief); and the Investigation Bureau’s Alexandra Cinque (Rackets Investigator), Jacob Diamond (Rackets Investigator), Mathew Dato (Senior Rackets Investigator), Anthony Santoro (Senior Rackets Investigator), and Jeremy Rosenberg (Supervising Rackets Investigator).
ANTHONY BURGES, a/k/a ANTHONY SASSO
New York, NY
- Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, two counts
- Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, four counts
- Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, two counts
 The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.