D.A. Bragg Announces Prison Sentence For COVID-19 Small Business Owners Scam

June 21, 2023

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., today announced the sentencing of ANTHONY BURGES, a/k/a ANTHONY SASSO, 54, to 3-to-9 years in state prison and full restitution of nearly $1.4 million for stealing from small businesses across the country through a fraudulent pandemic loan scheme. 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 in New York State Supreme Court on April 20, 2023, 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. FONTAINE’s case remains open and pending.
During the course of the investigation, more business owners came forward to report that they were the victims of a similar scheme. Victims included the owners of a beach club and two real estate companies. For that conduct, prosecutors pursued additional charges against BURGES, to which he also pleaded guilty on April 20, 2023.
“Anthony Burges’ scheme affected small businesses across New York City and the entire country. Instead of keeping his promise to manage costs or reduce existing debt, he forced businesses to close and declare bankruptcy,” said District Attorney Bragg. “We will continue to hold accountable those who took advantage of the hardships imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
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 case involving BURGES’ co-defendant KELLY FONTAINE, 57, remains open and pending.[1] 

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) handled 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 Jodie Kane (Acting 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 (Principal Financial Investigator), 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), and Anthony Santoro (Senior Rackets Investigator).

Defendant Information
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


  • 3-9 years in state prison
  • $1,397,350 in restitution


[1] 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.