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Public Safety, Virginia

NY man convicted of defrauding Virginia Beach restaurant owner, COVID-19 program

Crystal Graham
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A Virginia Beach company that operated multiple restaurant franchises in the Mid-Atlantic region, and used a third-party payroll service based in New York, was the victim of fraud after money intended for salaries was diverted by the owner of the third party to risky investments and gifts to himself and family members.

A federal jury convicted a Mount Vernon, N.Y., man, Derickson Lawrence, 67, the Chief Executive Officer and sole owner of MarketView Resources, Inc., of wire and mail fraud on March 22.

Lawrence’s sentencing is scheduled for July 19. He faces 20 years in prison on each of the 11 counts in his conviction.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, the Virginia Beach company regularly transferred payroll money to a bank account controlled by Lawrence to pay the salaries of its employees who elected to receive their wages via debit card.

From March 2017 through October 2019, Lawrence wired approximately $230,000 from the bank account with the employees’ wages to his brokerage account, most of which he lost through risky, speculative options trading. Lawrence also used the restaurant workers’ wages to pay debit cards he gave to himself, his own employee and family members.

As early as December 2018, on numerous occasions, there was not enough money left to cover the transactions of employees who used their debit cards to withdraw their wages.

The financial services company that processed those transactions for MarketView covered nearly $90,000 until they terminated their relationship with Lawrence in September 2019.

On Sept. 25, 2019, when the cards were shut off, MarketView’s own records showed an available balance to cardholders of more than $465,000. However, the bank account only contained $2,400.

In addition to defrauding his client, Lawrence defrauded the Paycheck Protection Program, a COVID-19 relief program under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The PPP program was intended to provide loans backed by the Small Business Administration to certain businesses, nonprofit organizations and other entities to help them retain their employees or stay afloat during the pandemic.

In April 2020, Lawrence submitted a PPP loan application that falsely stated he had two employees and paid more than $10,000 in monthly wages. Lawrence falsely portrayed MarketView’s 2020 payroll by using an altered bank statement that actually reflected activity from February 2016. Lawrence received a PPP loan of $26,250, which he also used for options trading.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.