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Press Release

Bakersfield Man Sentenced for Stealing over $160,000 in COVID-19 Relief Money

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — Jaswinder Bhangoo, 51, of Bakersfield, was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for stealing $163,750 in COVID-19 relief money, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, between May 2020 and November 2021, Bhangoo applied for over $250,000 in COVID-19 relief loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. In the applications, Bhangoo falsely represented that he owned multiple businesses with several employees and substantial revenues. He also represented that he had not been convicted of a felony in the previous five years when, in fact, he had been convicted of insurance fraud. Based on Bhangoo’s false representations, some of his loan applications were approved, and he received approximately $163,750 in federal funds to which he was not entitled. Bhangoo was ordered to pay $163,750 in restitution as part of his sentence.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brittany M. Gunter and Joseph Barton prosecuted the case.

This effort is part of a California COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Strike Force operation, one of five interagency COVID-19 fraud strike force teams established by the U.S. Department of Justice. The California Strike Force combines law enforcement and prosecutorial resources in the Eastern and Central Districts of California and focuses on large-scale, multistate pandemic relief fraud perpetrated by criminal organizations and transnational actors. The strike forces use prosecutor-led and data analyst-driven teams to identify and bring to justice those who stole pandemic relief funds.

Updated May 15, 2024