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Bergen County Residents Charged with Defrauding Investors, Mortgage Lenders of More Than $500K

By rlsmetro on
Bergen County

TRENTON –Attorney Gurbir S. Grewal announced that five people have been charged with first-degree conspiracy for allegedly conspiring to defraud two investors and two mortgage lenders of more than $500,000 through fraudulent real estate investments and then launder the proceeds through bank accounts controlled by three of the defendants.

Officials say the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau charged the following five defendants by complaint-summons with the listed offenses:  

George Bussanich Sr., 62, of Park Ridge, N.J.

  • 1st Degree Conspiracy
  • 1st Degree Money Laundering
  • 2nd Degree Theft by Deception

 Melanie Whitney, 42, of Mahwah, N.J. (Bussanich’s daughter)

  • 1st Degree Conspiracy
  • 1st Degree Money Laundering
  • 2nd Degree Theft by Deception (2 counts)
  • 4th Degree Falsifying or Tampering with Records

George Bussanich Jr., 41, of Saddle River, N.J. (Bussanich’s son)

  • 1st Degree Conspiracy
  • 1st Degree Money Laundering

Joseph Whitney, 42, of Mahwah, N.J. (Melanie Whitney’s husband)

  • 1st Degree Conspiracy

Bruce Evanter, 73, of Mahwah, N.J.

  • 1st Degree Conspiracy
  • 1st Degree Money Laundering

Melanie Whitney, Joseph Whitney, and Evanter were charged on Friday, Jan. 29, and George Bussanich Sr. and George Bussanich Jr. were charged this week.

 

Officials say It is alleged that by overstating her professional real estate experience, Melanie Whitney convinced two men to enter into business partnerships with her, deceiving each into investing more than $75,000 in fraudulent real estate deals.

Instead of investing the funds supplied by the two men, she allegedly stole the funds, directing them into bank accounts controlled by George Bussanich Sr., George Bussanich Jr., and Evanter, who withdrew the funds for personal expenses. Melanie Whitney also allegedly falsified mortgage applications to defraud two mortgage lenders, SNCO Capital Group and Planet Home Lending, out of funds they loaned her for real estate investments.

Those funds allegedly were also diverted and laundered through accounts controlled by her father, brother and Evanter. Each of the other four defendants allegedly conspired with Melanie Whitney in the fraudulent schemes and money laundering, which involved over half a million dollars in funds.

 

According to officials, in a parallel action, on Jan. 30, 2021, the New Jersey Bureau of Securities denied Joseph Whitney’s applications for registration with the Bureau as an agent and investment adviser representative of a broker dealer, citing conduct related to the criminal charges. The denial prevents him from working in the securities industry in New Jersey.

First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000.  The money laundering charge carries a mandatory minimum term of parole ineligibility of one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed.

It also carries a fine of up to $500,000, and an additional anti-money laundering profiteering penalty of up to $500,000 or three times the value of any property involved.

Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.