Inner City Press

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYTAzerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube

More: InnerCityPro
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

For PPP Loan Fraud Muge Ma Gets 52 Months As Lawyer Asks Otisville and Downplays ID Theft

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Podcast
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, April 21 – Amid mounting fraud in the U.S. Paycheck Protection Program, including banks and non-bank fintech lenders refusing to report the most basic data about what they done with the money, an investigative project of Inner City Press, on May 21, 2020 there was the arrest of Muge Ma, as known as "Hummer Mars," a Chinese national residing in Manhattan.

At 7 pm he was remanded to custody in jail as a risk of flight, see below.

 On September 11, 2020 after various other attempts, Ma tried again before Judge Richard M. Berman. He continued remand but agreed to hear Ma's Constitutional / Sixth Amendment right to counsel arguments, on September 30. Inner City Press live tweeted September 11, here and below.

 On November 16, 2021 after Ma pleaded guilty to Counts 2 and 8 and several times delayed his sentencing, his lawyer sought to seal the entirety of his motion about an expert for sentencing. One the first and last line were left in; four paragraph were redacted.

  Inner City Press immediately filed opposition, seeking unsealing, still not ruled on.

On April 21, 2022 Muge Ma was up for sentencing. Inner City Press live tweeted it here:

 Ma's lawyer is arguing that all other PPP fraud defendants should have been charged with aggravated indentity theft. Wants zero time for bank fraud.

Ma is in prison beige, 2 US Marshals behind him.

 Judge Berman: I had a sanctions case with submissions like this [seemingly a reference to #Halkbank case] US wants 63 months. Ma wants the mandatory minimum, 24 months.

 Ma's parents are here in the courtroom. His lawyer emphasizes that Ma is an only child. Ma: A steep price was paid by my companies and myself. The MDC is cruel. We see Lady Statue of Liberty from the yard.

Ma: For years I have seen corruption of Bureau of Prisons and been attacked by anti-Asian hate, by MS-13.

 Ma: It was like s black hole sucking me up. I canceled the applications. I have zero tickets in MDC. Hummer Mars can always get it done.

 Ma: I look forward to supervised release meetings with you. [Pro tip: Defendant referring to himself in the 3rd person in pre-sentencing speech is not a good look. #HummerMars

 Ma's "mitigation specialist" says he's been taking classes at Columbia while in MDC "to make himself more marketable." Says people got months not years for Super Storm Sandy fraud.

 Ma's ex-Probation mitigation specialist name-drops EDNY Judges Dearie and Brody. AUSA: In Oregon, David Unitan got 61 months for $295,0000 of PPP fraud.

 Note: Judge Berman has another criminal proceeding at 11 am and the defense lawyer has shown up. This has been going for 2 hours.

 AUSA: Ma claimed he represented then Governor Cuomo in trying to get PPE supplies without paying. He lived in a $1.5 million condo.

 Judge Berman: I intend to sentence Muge Ma to 52 months in prison.

And he did, along with 5 years of supervised release and a recommendation of Otisville.

  Back on June 15, 2021 Ma was brought into the courtroom of Judge Berman by two Marshals, for his change of plea proceeding. But it did not go smoothly. When asked to allocute to his crimes, Ma did not want to say that he had intended to defraud the banks.

  Then why was he pleading guilty? And why should he get "acceptance of responsibility" reduction in offense level at sentencing?

  Next, Ma resisted describing his aggravated identity theft. He kept saying that he applied in his own name, but possessed the email of another, with the name in it. Really?

  Then the AUSA and defense counsel had a whispered, non-public sidebar with Judge Berman, after which the allocution was accepted. Ma's parents, it appeared, were in the gallery with Inner City Press. Sentencing was set for September 22.

But on July 12, the sentencing was delayed more than two months to November 30: "MEMO ENDORSEMENT as to Muge Ma on re: [50] CONSENT LETTER MOTION filed by Muge Ma addressed to Judge Richard M. Berman from Peter Katz, Esq. dated July 12, 2021 re: Because in-person meetings at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Mr. Ma is housed, are difficult to come by, as well as the parties' collective schedules, we are requesting that Your Honor extend the interview schedule, disclosure dates, as well as Mr. Ma's sentencing (which is currently scheduled for September 22, 2021) as follows: Pretrial interview to be completed by September 13, 2021; First Disclosure of the Draft PSR by October 9, 2021; Second Disclosure of the Final PSR by November 3, 2021; Sentencing on or about November 22, 2021, at the Courts discretion. ENDORSEMENT: The proposed schedule is acceptable to the Court with the following modifications: Sentence is adjourned to 11/30/21 at 10:00 am; Defense submission is due 11/9/21; and Government submission is due 11/16/21. SO ORDERED: (Signed by Judge Richard M. Berman on 7/12/2021)."

On November 10, more delay: "Activity in Case 1:20-cr-00407-RMB USA v. Ma Order on Letter Motion MEMO ENDORSEMENT [53] CONSENT LETTER MOTION addressed to Judge Richard M. Berman from Peter Katz, Esq. dated November 10, 2021 re: [51] Memo Endorsement, Set Deadlines/Hearings,,,,,,,, re: Sentencing Adjournment Request... ENDORSEMENT... Sentence is adjourned to 12/16/21 at 11:30am. Defense submission is due 11/29/21. Government submission is due 12/6/21. (Signed by Judge Richard M. Berman on 11/10/21)."

Inner City Press will stay on these cases. Podcast here.

   Watch this site.

 Back on September 30, Judge Berman heard an application for release on bond again, and again denied it. Inner City Press again live tweeted:

Judge Richard M. Berman begins by recounting judges who've denied bail to Ma, who has a Chinese passport but if offering up a property at One West End Ave: SDNY Magistrates Judge Aaron, Judge Rakoff (to whom as Part 1 judge Ma did not appeal Judge Aaron's denial)

 Judge Berman says Ma is 36 and a Chinese national; his wife is in LA & is divorcing him. "His home in Manhattan is in a luxury high-rise." Judge Berman finds danger to the community - not physical danger, but financial danger. "Mr. Ma poses a risk of flight."

 Judge Berman says Ma's retained counsel has had 12 legal calls with him, and four on video, and is asking how he would be able to review discovery. The SDNY prosecutors reply that defense counsel does not explain how a dozen calls at this stage is not enough.

Judge Berman denies Ma's application and orders remand to be continued.

Muge Ma, the defendant, has a Mandarin interpreter.  His lawyer says Ma speaks fine English. But the MCC has not produced him. Lawyer wants him present for bail argument. Seems the proceeding may be put over - for more than a week.

 Muge Ma a/k/a Hummer Mars has hired, and is paying (unlike Michael Avenatti in SDNY) his own lawyer: Peter Katz of Princeton NJ.  MCC counsel says they are trying to produce Ma.

 Ma has arrived. Judge Berman recites that Magistrate Judges McCarthy and Cott turned him down for release, as did Judge Rakoff sitting as Part 1 judge. Will Judge Berman go a different way?

Judge Berman says he's never seen so many denials, by 3 different judges, and a re-application. Defense lawyer: There was no bail application to Judge Cott. We knew we had a date with you today. Judge Berman: It's fair to say that Judge Cott continued the remand Ma's lawyer Katz: We've just waited 47 minutes for Mr. Ma.

Judge Berman: What can we draw from that? We were trying to accommodate him with an interpreter. Nothing that we have done or said today has any bearing on the determination whether Mr. Ma is guilty

 Judge Berman: So what's different now, that should persuade us that Mr Ma is not a flight risk? Ma's lawyer Katz: The communication is difficult.  [But that's not on risk of flight] Judge Berman: You can't paint with a huge brush. What you say would apply to all

 Katz: I'm not sure if a pre-trial resolution is possible, since I can't talk to him enough. [Some might say this boils down to saying, Let him out, he might plead guilty.] Katz says he has another case with AUSA Sagar Ravi, about a defendant in another facility

 Judge Berman named another Judge, Magistrate Aaron, as turning Ma down on June 5 and says Ma didn't appeal to Judge Rakoff, also Part 1 Judge, on that day. Implying because Ma knew he would lose with Judge Rakoff, but wants to try again with Judge Berman?

 AUSA Ravi: In person legal visits in MCC will begin again on September 21. Ma's lawyer Katz: That's just testing. Judge Berman: If that's the only issue, I would suggest you submit aConstitutional brief about the attorney client contacts, not content

 Judge Berman: We've succeeded today in narrowing the issue. I'll give you a few days. I've looked at the papers and I can't imagine I'd come to a different conclusion than Judges McCarthy, Rakoff & Aaron. I'll continue the remand; I'll look at whatever you submit

Judge Berman: I'm not asking for a supplement, to what was rejected. I'm looking for something new. How long will it take you? Katz: Next Thurs?

Judge Berman: Sure. Keep it to 10 pages double spaced. US? Ravi: 1 week.  Wed Sept 30, 10:30 conference.

We will continue to cover this case.

  Inner City Press previously covered the bail (denial) hearing:

As the presentment of Muge Ma begins, he says, "For many years I have considered myself as American." Ma, charged with defrauding PPP program, graduated from UCLA Anderson School in Management in 2013.

Judge McCarthy (based in White Plains courthouse) asks Ma, Are you a U.S. citizen? Ma: Not yet, Your Honor. Ma is being very obsequious to Judge, thanking her profusely.

 AUSA Ravi says Ma lives in a condo in a brand new Manhattan condo, defrauded 5 banks for $20 million under PPP.AUSA Ravi says Ma's statement to agents reflect he may already have #COVID19. His parents were visiting from China in January, stuck here since - but seen with tablets and multiple cell phones in his condo.

Judge McCarthy ruled, This weighs toward remand [to prison]. You have the financial resources to flee to China. There's the sophisticated nature of this crime.  Remand.

    In connection with loan applications for relief available from the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (“EIDL”) Program, MA falsely represented to the SBA and five financial institutions that his companies, New York International Capital LLC (“NYIC”) and Hurley Human Resources LLC (“Hurley”), had hundreds of employees and paid millions of dollars in wages to those employees, when, in fact, MA appears to have been the only employee of his companies.

     SBA OIG Eastern Region Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kupperbusch said:  “Providing false statements to gain access to SBA’s programs will be aggressively investigated by our office.  SBA OIG and its law enforcement partners are poised to root out fraud in SBA’s programs and bring wrongdoers to justice." But SBA has no time to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests? 

  From at least in or about March 2020 through at least on or about May 15, 2020, MA applied to the SBA and at least five banks for a total of over $20 million in Government-guaranteed loans for the his companies NYIC and Hurley (together, the “Ma Companies”) through the SBA’s PPP and EIDL Program.  In connection with these loan applications, MA represented, among other things, that he was the sole owner and executive director of the Ma Companies, that the Ma Companies were located on the sixth floor of his luxury condominium building in New York, New York, and that NYIC and Hurley together had hundreds of employees and paid millions of dollars in wages to those employees on a monthly basis.  In fact, however, MA appears to have been the only employee of NYIC since at least in or about 2019, and Hurley does not appear to have any employees... A bank approved and disbursed over approximately $800,000 in PPP loan funds for Hurley, which were frozen in connection with this investigation. 

  Inner City Press will have more on this, and other investigations. This case is US v. Ma, 20-cr-407 (Berman).



Your support means a lot. As little as $5 a month helps keep us going and grants you access to exclusive bonus material on our Patreon page. Click here to become a patron.

Feedback: Editorial [at]
SDNY Press Room 480, front cubicle
500 Pearl Street, NY NY 10007 USA

Mail: Box 20047, Dag Hammarskjold Station NY NY 10017

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

 Copyright 2006-2020 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]