Bartonsville man sentenced for pandemic loan fraud | USAO-MDPA

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SCRANTON- The United States Attorney’s Office for the Intermediate District of Pennsylvania announced that Nazim Hassam, 70, of Bartonsville, Pennsylvania, was sentenced yesterday by United States District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion to 18 months in prison for money laundering stemming from an illegal transaction made with funds obtained through a fraudulent pandemic relief loan application.

According to U.S. Attorney John C. Gurganus, in April and June 2020, Hassam applied for and received two loans under the federal Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) while making false statements on the applications. In 2019, Hassam was indicted along with two businesses he co-owns, the Pocono Plaza Inn and Om Sri Sai, Inc., for crimes related to sex trafficking and drug trafficking. But when asked on the loan applications whether he or the companies applying for the loans were under indictment, Hassam falsely replied, “No.” Hassam fraudulently obtained a loan for each of the two corporations, together totaling $89,308. Hassam then carried out illegal monetary transactions with most of these funds. Specifically related to the count to which Hassam pleaded guilty, Hassam obtained $61,000 in the form of a PPP loan for Om Sri Sai, Inc., a company that owns and operates a hotel in Bartonsville, Pennsylvania, and then transferred funds from the company’s bank account to repay a personal line of credit he held in his name. As part of the plea deal with the government, Hassam admitted that in addition to the money laundering charge to which he pleaded guilty, he also committed the underlying fraud offences. Hassam repaid both loans to the issuing banks, with interest, after learning of the investigation but before sentencing.

Hassam’s sentence was increased because he committed the crime while on bail in the drug and sex trafficking case. Hassam had already been found guilty in this case after a trial and sentenced to 60 months in prison, as well as a fine of 150,000 dollars. Judge Mannion ordered that 12 months of the 18-month sentence in this case run concurrently with the previous sentence, and 6 months run consecutively, as required by law.

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean A. Camoni prosecuted the case.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information about the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or via NCDF’s online complaint form at: https://www. .justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

This lawsuit is also part of an investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OECDTF). The OECDTF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, multi-agency approach focused on intelligence, which leverages the forces of federal authorities, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

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