Arroyo Grande couple used COVID relief money to buy a condo in Hawaii

December 16, 2022

Christopher and Erin Mazzei bought a condo at this development in Kapolei, Hawaii for $820,000 in Dec. 2020.


An Arroyo Grande couple allegedly scammed the federal government out of more than a million dollars they used to purchase two SUVs and for a down payment on a condo in Hawaii.

The couple, Christopher and Erin Mazzei, obtained $1,365,000 in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loan funds intended for COVID-19 relief for their film production and catering companies, according to a federal indictment. The indictment alleges the couple submitted fraudulent loan applications based on false payroll expenses.

The couple is charged with wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy, according to the indictment. They were arraigned in June and remain out of jail on bonds of $50,000 each.

On April 13, 2020, Christopher Mazzei applied for a PPP loan for Gusto on the Go catering claiming he was the only owner of the San Luis Obispo based company, which he reported had 27 employees. However, Christopher Mazzei’s mother was the registered owner of Gusto on the Go, which the state of California suspended on Oct. 1, 2020.

On April 20, 2020, the couple applied for a PPP loan for Better Half Entertainment claiming they had 12 employees, did not own any other businesses and would not be applying for any other PPP loans, none of which was accurate, according to the indictment. The couple allegedly provided the bank with false payroll records.

In 2020, the couple applied for and received eight PPP loans for three businesses: Gusto on the Go catering in San Luis Obispo, Better Half Entertainment in SLO and Better Half Entertainment in Beverly Hills.

Upon conviction, the indictment notes the government plans to seek forfeiture of nearly $600,000 from two bank accounts, $42,000 from a car dealership in San Luis Obispo for the purchase of a Ford Explorer, a property on the 1700 block of Oak Hill Drive in Arroyo Grande and the condo in Hawaii.

“Today’s indictment sends a clear message that those who exploit and defraud financial institutions and the government’s pandemic relief funds will be brought to justice,” said Cory Nootnagel, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Western Region, Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

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It’s actually very easy to see who received PPP loans, lots of folks you know no doubt and some pretty high amounts.

Hawaii vs. Mazzei indictment online for public viewing. Looks damning, but like she said…innocent until proven guilty.

Do you know how easy it is to get an indictment in this country? For your reading pleasure:

I’ll highlight some points for everyone:

“The grand jury is a tool of the prosecutor, championed and romanticized by the Department of Justice precisely because the grand jury is captive to the prosecutor – he dominates the entire proceedings. The prosecutor decides what evidence the grand jury will consider. He determines the witnesses to call and what testimony to elicit from them. He decides when to issue subpoenas and for what, and documents produced pursuant to those subpoenas are delivered to the prosecutor, not the grand jurors. The prosecutor reviews the documents and he decides what to show the grand jury. Whatever “independence” the grand jury has, it is certainly not independence to protect the defendant, since the defendant has virtually no protections in this setting.

An indictment obtained based exclusively on hearsay evidence is perfectly legitimate.

A person under investigation has no right to appear before the grand jury or testify on his own behalf. He has no right to offer evidence, present witnesses, or even show that he is innocent. Indeed, an indictment is valid even if the prosecutor chooses not to tell the grand jury about substantially exculpatory evidence in his possession or evidence that clearly negates guilt.

No defense lawyer and no judge are present during grand jury proceedings. A judge makes no evidentiary rulings, does not decide what the correct law is, and makes no ruling on what legal instructions the grand jury should get. In fact, the prosecutor does not have to instruct the grand jury on the law or elements of the crimes the grand jury ultimately indicts on.

Finally, if one grand jury decides not to indict, the prosecutor can empanel a new grand jury, make his presentation again, and seek an indictment from a new group. And if that does not work, he can try again with another grand jury. He does not need a compelling reason for doing this and need not seek approval from the court.”

What you are describing sounds more like a “ kangaroo court.”

There is almost nothing contained in the rant above which is actually accurate or true.

Didn’t your lawyer tell you to keep your mouth shut?!

So are you guilty or not?

I find these stories fascinating. Reading the comments, it appears the couple was well to do, came from good families, had a successful business and a very comfortable life. So why would they risk their reputation, business, savings (which will be decimated by their legal expenses) and face several years in prison for nothing more than a vacation condo and a couple of vehicles? The risk/reward just doesn’t make sense.

Greed justified by a disagreeing opinion on the pandemic.

Why didn’t the Government do a thorough investigation before throwing the OUR money away?

The answer is in your statement, “Our money”, not their money. The government is always happy to throw away Our money.

When they are giving other people’s money away, maybe it is too expense to verify applications. All government needs to do in monitor our personal avatar and if our avatar suddenly changes, well guess what, your busted.

A simple review of income tax returns for the previous two-three years would have stopped a lot of this fraud: it would show they were lying then or lying now!

Exactly my point, whether it be you tax returns, digital foot print, avatar or whatever you want to call it, we have a profile that IS monitored. Yes there are those that have done very well because of good choices and many years of discipline, that too is continually monitored and verified by the cloud (A.I) we report to.


Washington Post 6/11/20

Trump administration won’t say who got $511 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus loans

“As it relates to the names and amounts of specific PPP loans, we believe that that’s proprietary information, and in many cases for sole proprietors and small businesses, it is confidential information,” Mnuchin said in the hearing. “The reason why we’re not disclosing the names and amounts, unlike in the 7(a) program, is because of that issue.”



‘We’re going to find you’: Biden extends time government has to recover misused PPP funds

Aug 22, 2022 — According to PRAC, 91% of all PPP funds were processed during the first four weeks of the program. About 57,000 applications were under names on …



EDD spent $177 billion during the pandemic,” “their fraud rate is much closer to $32.6 billion, not the $20 billion that they’ve been talking about. They’re not just targeting the unemployment insurance system anymore. They are in all your systems, they’re using the same techniques.”

KCRA 3 showed how disability insurance was already a target at the beginning of 2022. Money that was still being paid out, it’s money California will never recover.