SCRANTON- The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Julian J. Levons, age 64, of Henryville, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty yesterday to perpetrating a wire fraud and money laundering scheme to obtain COVID-19 relief guaranteed by the Small Business Administration through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. The plea was entered after Levons commenced trial on May 31, 2022.
The EIDL program is designed to help small businesses facing financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded by the March 2020 CARES Act, EIDL funds are offered in low-interest rate loans, designated for specific business expenses, such as fixed debts, payroll, and business obligation.
According to United States Attorney John C. Gurganus, Levons was charged with obtaining two EIDL loans for a combined approximate $300,000, and attempting unsuccessfully to obtain a third EIDL loan for approximately $150,000. In applying for the loans, Levons falsified revenue and expense figures for two supposed small businesses that he and his wife owned. The money was allegedly used to pay down a high interest rate line of credit for Levons’s personal expenses, and to pay off a high interest rate mortgage on a rental property, despite prohibitions on the use of EIDL funds to refinance pre-existing debt. Investigators seized over $210,000 in fraudulently obtained EIDL funds from bank accounts under his control.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Phillip J. Caraballo and James Buchanan are prosecuting the case.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of 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 the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The maximum penalty under federal law are 30 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.
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