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ROUNDUP: Member of Republican House Leadership Resigns from Casino Commission Amid Investigation

CONCORD, NH — One day after being named in a criminal investigation following allegations of illegally taking over $844,000 in COVID-19 pandemic assistance, Rep. Laurie Sanborn has resigned as chair of a legislative commission charged with studying the impact of new charitable gaming laws. Rep. Sanborn’s husband was alleged to have used the ill-gotten money to buy two race race cars and cover 27 years of prepaid rent on his Concord casino, and $30,000 on services to develop a second casino in Concord. Rep Sanborn still has significant oversight of New Hampshire casinos in her role as chair of the House of Ways and Means Committee, a role from which she has yet to resign. ROUNDUP:

  • House Speaker Pro Tem Laurie Sanborn, R-Bedford, resigned Friday as chairman of a high-powered commission on charity casinos a day after state regulators sought to indefinitely suspend the gambling business license held by her husband, former state Sen. Andy Sanborn, over allegations that he fraudulently misspent COVID-19 relief funds.

  • House Democratic Leader Matt Wilhelm of Manchester said Sanborn should go further. “It was appropriate that Rep. Laurie Sanborn has decided to step away from the commission directly involved in the oversight of charitable gaming, however, she remains the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, where members will resume work on retained bills specific to charitable gaming this month,” Wilhelm said.

  • Attorney General John Formella and State Lottery Executive Director Charles McIntyre said Thursday their independent reviews concluded Andy Sanborn deliberately failed to mention he ran a charity casino when he secured an $844,000 loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

  • State Rep. Laurie Sanborn resigned Friday from her position as chair of a state gambling commission one day after state officials said her husband Andy Sanborn defrauded taxpayers by illegally obtaining and spending COVID relief money.

  • Sanborn was appointed to lead the 13-person commission last month, which 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. Her initial appointment sparked accusations of potential conflicts of interest, which were exacerbated following the allegations of her husband.

  • On Thursday, the Attorney General’s Office said that Andy Sanborn, former state Senator and local business owner, used an $844,000 COVID small business loan to support his lavish lifestyle, including cash payments disguised as rent, the purchase of two Porches for himself and a Ferrari for Laurie Sanborn. Casinos are ineligible to obtain Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the Small Business Association.

  • 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.

  • Rep. Laurie Sanborn of Bedford was the chairperson of a commission that began an extensive review of the state’s charitable gaming industry last month. Her decision to step down from that role was appropriate “so there will be no distractions from the good work they intend to do,” House Speaker Sherm Packard said in a statement.

  • Sanborn and her husband, former state Sen. Andy Sanborn, own a bar and casino in Concord and recently won approval to build a much larger venue a few miles away. But the attorney general’s office said Thursday that it has launched a criminal investigation after finding evidence that Andy Sanborn fraudulently obtained COVID-19 relief aid and spent it on luxury cars for himself and his wife.

  • Formella said his office has opened a criminal investigation, including a review by the Public Integrity Unit of the actions of the Sanborns. Formella also made a criminal referral to the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s District of New Hampshire.

  • Laurie Sanborn, a Bedford Republican serving her seventh term, could not be immediately reached Friday following House Speaker Sherman Packard’s announcement that she had resigned as chairwoman.

  • Formella said Mr. Sanborn bought at least three race cars, two Porsche 987 Cayman S racers for himself, and a Ferrari F430 challenge racer as a gift for his wife. Formella said that Andy Sanborn is not suitable to be associated with charitable gaming in New Hampshire due to evidence of COVID-19 relief fraud involving his Concord Casino charitable gaming business.

  • Rep. Laurie Sanborn has stepped down as the head of a State House committee charged with studying charitable gaming. The move comes a day after Attorney General John Formella announced Sanborn and her husband, former state Sen. Andy Sanborn, were under criminal investigation related to alleged COVID relief fraud tied to a casino he owns.

  • State regulators have since said that Andy Sanborn is unfit to hold a charity gaming license because, they allege, he fraudulently obtained $844,000 in COVID-19 relief money and used it on luxury personal expenses, including the purchase of three race cars for himself and Laurie Sanborn.

  • The criminal investigations of the Sanborns come as Andy Sanborn hopes to expand his gambling operations in the capital city.

  • In August, the U.S. Justice Department announced that as part of its nationwide effort to combat COVID-19 fraud, it had seized over $1.4 billion in COVID-19 relief funds and charged over 3,000 defendants. New Hampshire’s U.S. Attorney’s Office has announced several of its own charges and convictions related to pandemic fraud.

  • Sanborn is alleged to have used the money to buy himself two Porsche race cars and cover 27 years of prepaid rent on this casino, which is located in his Concord restaurant, The Draft Sports Bar and Grill. He allegedly spent nearly $30,000 on services to develop a second casino in Concord, and about $20,000 to pay rent for The Draft.

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