California Man Admits Laundering Money from Fraudulent SBA Loans and Business Email Compromise Fraud Scheme Targeting Law Firm
NEWARK, N.J. – A California man pleaded guilty today to laundering money from fraudulently obtained Small Business Association (SBA) loans and from a law firm that was the victim of a business email compromise, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Eric Bullard, 59, of California, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo to an information charging him with one count of money laundering conspiracy. Bullard is currently detained and, at the time of the offense, was on federal supervised release from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California stemming from armed bank robbery charges.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
In June 2020, Victim 1, a resident of Bergen County, New Jersey, communicated via email with a New Jersey law firm, which was advising Victim 1 on a real estate transaction. During the course of this email correspondence, an unknown person compromised an email account used by the New Jersey law firm. Victim 1 was duped into wiring approximately $560,000 to a business bank account controlled by Bullard. Several hundred thousand dollars were then transferred from Bullard’s account into bank accounts controlled by other individuals.
Bullard and others also conspired to launder the proceeds of fraudulently obtained COVID-19 disaster relief loans guaranteed by the SBA. In July 2020, money obtained through these loans was deposited into Bullard’s bank accounts.
The money laundering conspiracy charge has a maximum term of 20 years, and a maximum fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the funds involved in the transfer, whichever is greater.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamie L. Hoxie of the Cybercrime Unit in Newark.