NH Attorney General: Concord Casino owner Andy Sanborn fraudulently used COVID loan to support lavish lifestyle 

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor staff

Published: 08-31-2023 6:22 PM

Concord Casino owner and former state senator Andy Sanborn fraudulently used a COVID-19 loan to support his lavish lifestyle, including cash payments disguised as rent, the purchase of two Porsches for himself and a Ferrari for his wife, Laurie. As a result, he is under criminal investigation and unsuitable to be associated with charitable gaming in the state, according to the New Hampshire Lottery Commission and Attorney General’s Office.

“This case highlights the importance of law enforcement’s role in keeping illegal activity out of New Hampshire’s charitable gaming industry,” Attorney General John Formella said in a statement. “Our obligation to protect the public demands that we take action against any person who is found to have used their regulated casino to enrich themselves with fraudulently obtained taxpayer funds.”

The Attorney General has opened a criminal investigation against Sanborn and referred the matter to the United States Attorney’s Office for further criminal prosecution.

According to the state agencies, Sanborn obtained $844,000 in a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the Small Business Association, which casinos were specifically ineligible to receive.

To get around that, Sanborn left out the registered trade name for his business “Concord Casino” on his loan application and characterized the business activity as “miscellaneous,” according to the Lottery Commission and Attorney General.

Documents obtained by the agencies “contain evidence indicating Mr. Sanborn’s knowing and willful execution of a scheme and artifice to defraud the United States Small Business Administration.”

The Attorney General’s Office and Lottery Commission also found evidence of “extravagant personal spending” by Sanborn and his wife, State Rep. Laurie Sanborn, using the proceeds from the SBA loan.

This spending included:

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■$181,250 for two Porsche 987 Cayman S race cars for Sanborn.

■$80,000 for a 2008 F430 Ferrari for Laurie Sanborn.

■$45,000 in auto parts purchases and services.

■$28,800 in engineering and consulting services for his proposal to the Concord Planning Board to build a new casino near the end of Loudon Road.

■$163,500 in payments to himself in cash disguised as rent paid by the Concord Casino to the Draft Bar and Grill, both located at 67 South Main Street in Concord.

Investigators found the lease between the Concord Casino and the Draft called for monthly payments of $500, or $6,000 annually, yet Sanborn used funds from the loan to prepay 27 years of rent.

The money was “all for Mr. Sanborn’s personal use and benefit, despite reporting the transactions on the licensee’s books as necessary rent expenses.”

The Lottery Commission is moving to immediately revoke Sanborn’s facility license and game operator employer license at the Concord Casino. Losing those licenses could also strike a fatal blow to Sanborn’s plans to open a new, larger casino in Concord. Sanborn has 10 days to appeal.

The Lottery Commission also reported that Sanborn failed to provide documents demonstrating Concord Casino’s financial stability.

Recently, State Rep. Laurie Sanborn was appointed to lead a 13-person commission that looks into gaming laws in the state, including whether charities are getting a fair share of the revenue and if casinos are operating within the laws.

The committee Attorney General Formella and Charlie McIntyre, the executive director of the state lottery commission. Alongside them are two Senate members, five House of Representative members, two charity representatives, one charitable gaming operator, and one public member appointed by the governor.

Formella’s office had no comment about whether it will seek to remove Rep. Sanborn from the charitable gaming study committee.

Her initial appointment sparked accusations about potential conflicts of interest, which have been made more loudly following the allegations against her husband.

Democratic Minority Leader Rep. Matt Wilhelm called for Laurie Sanborn to be removed from the charitable gaming oversight committee in light of the fraudulent use of COVID-19 loans.

“The Attorney General’s report regarding Concord Casino owner Andy Sanborn’s fraudulent use of taxpayer dollars to purchase sports cars for himself and his wife, Speaker Pro Tempore Laurie Sanborn, is deeply concerning,” Rep. Wilhelm said in a statement. “Given the serious charges in the Attorney General’s report, removing Representative Sanborn from positions that directly involve charitable gaming is the only way to preserve public trust in the oversight of taxpayer dollars.”

The Sanborns also received approval from the city of Concord in June to build another casino spanning 43,000 square feet at the end of Loudon Road. However, the approval is being challenged in court by residents who say the public was deprived of its due process rights when the board passed the project without adequate notice.

“As we see in other New Hampshire communities, we have an opportunity to make a material, positive financial impact with upwards of 72 local charitable organizations, of which, real good can come,” both Andy and Laurie Sanborn wrote in their application to the city of Concord for their new casino, Break O’ Day Drive on Loudon Road.

“The city is currently evaluating the impact of the Attorney General’s decision upon the Planning Board’s decision,” wrote Concord spokesperson Stefanie Breton Thursday afternoon.

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