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Bergen County Man Admits to Fraudulently Obtaining CARES Act Loan and Laundering Proceeds

A Bergen County man confessed to fraudulently securing an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and laundering the proceeds, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

Paramus, New JerseyGeorge Leguen, 51, of Paramus, New Jersey, pleaded guilty on June 12, 2024, to wire fraud and money laundering charges before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court.

From August 2020 through January 2021, Leguen engaged in a scheme to fraudulently obtain COVID-19 emergency relief funds meant for distressed small businesses under the EIDL program. Leguen submitted a fraudulent application to the Small Business Administration (SBA) on behalf of a business he owned and controlled. The application included falsified information regarding the number of employees, annual gross revenue figures, and fraudulent federal tax returns. Leguen received $149,900 in funds, which he then diverted for personal use.

The wire fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The money laundering charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the value of the funds involved, whichever is greater. Sentencing is set for December 19, 2024.

The District of New Jersey COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Strike Force, one of five established by the U.S. Department of Justice, played a key role in investigating this case. These strike forces focus on large-scale, multi-state pandemic relief fraud and are interagency efforts designed to identify and prosecute those who misappropriated pandemic relief funds.

Anyone with information on attempted COVID-19 fraud can report it to the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Fatime Meka Cano and Aja Espinosa of the Economic Crimes Unit in Newark are representing the government in this case.

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