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NJ Man Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison for $2M COVID-19 Fraud


By: Najla Alexander 

NJ AG authorities announced that a Sussex County man was sentenced to 36 months in prison for defrauding several financial institutions and illegally obtaining more than $2 million in COVID-19 funding meant to help small businesses impacted by the pandemic.AdU.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said that John Jhong, 54, of Sparta, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to information charging him with one count each of bank fraud, money laundering, and misuse of a Social Security number.

Judge Wigenton imposed the sentence on November 15 in Newark federal court, officials stated.

“The defendant took money from government programs that were established to provide financial assistance to Americans who were struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic,” U.S. Attorney Sellinger said.

“The sentence handed down today is his reward for attempting to turn these vital relief programs into his personal ATM.”

“We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to find and punish those who have tried to take advantage of the federal government.”

“The theft of taxpayer funds is inexcusable,” Tammy Tomlins, Special Agent in Charge of IRS – Criminal Investigation, Newark Field Office, said.

“IRS Criminal Investigation will hold accountable anyone who steals from government programs intended to help those in need. We remain committed to working with our law enforcement partners to ensure fraudsters are brought to justice.”

“Today’s sentence punishes the defendant’s criminal conduct and should serve as a significant deterrent to others who would selfishly steal from their fellow citizens to unlawfully enrich themselves.”

“Ensuring the Postal Service is not being used to perpetuate frauds against the U.S. Government, or its citizens, is one of our top priorities,” Christoper A. Nielsen, Inspector in Charge, Philadelphia Division, said.

“The Postal Inspection Service will continue to investigate CAREs Act fraud schemes through our participation in the NJ COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Strike Force.”

“Today, the defendant in this case was brought to justice for fraudulently obtaining more than $2 million in COVID-19 relief funding that was designed to assist struggling businesses during the pandemic,” Special Agent in Charge Patricia Tarasca of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General (FDIC OIG) said

“The FDIC OIG will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and hold accountable those who took advantage of pandemic relief programs and threatened to undermine the integrity of our Nation’s financial institutions.”

“As the nation was struggling with the damaging effects of the pandemic, Mr. Jhong callously attempted to deceive lenders and fraudulently secure Paycheck Protection Program loans by knowingly misusing several Social Security numbers,” Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration, said.

“I thank the investigating agencies and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their efforts in holding Mr. Jhong accountable for these crimes.”

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Jhong submitted numerous fraudulent loan applications in which he sought over $15 million in federal pandemic aid and illegally obtained $2 million of that money, officials said.

According to officials, Jhong used false and fraudulent tax returns, government forms, and other people’s names and documents, including Social Security numbers of individuals who were deceased for over a decade.

He spent his ill-gotten gains on personal expenses, officials say.Ad In addition to his prison sentence, Judge Wigenton ordered three years of supervised release and restitution of $2.13 million, official stated.