Somerset County Man Admits $850,000 Paycheck Protection Program Fraud Scheme
TRENTON, N.J. – A Somerset County, New Jersey, man admitted fraudulently obtaining over $850,000 in federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger, announced today.
Butherde Darius, 50, of North Plainfield, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton federal court on Nov. 21, 2022, to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and one count of money laundering.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Darius conspired with at least one individual to submit a fraudulent PPP loan application to a lender on behalf of a purported business that he controlled, obtaining over $850,000. He engaged in various financial transactions with the fraudulently obtained loan proceeds. The application Darius and his conspirator submitted contained fraudulent representations to the lender – a Federal Home Loan Bank member – and the SBA, including bogus federal tax documents purportedly from the IRS. Darius also fabricated the existence of employees and wages paid through the purported businesses. According to IRS records, however, none of the purported tax documents that were submitted in support of the loan applications were ever filed with the IRS. Darius loan application for his purported business was approved for approximately $852,000 in federal COVID-19 emergency relief funds meant for distressed small businesses. Darius then used a portion of the proceeds for various personal expenses.
The count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The count of money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for March 6, 2023.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Tammy L Tomlins; special agents of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Sharon MacDermott; special agents of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Thomas Mahoney; postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Newark, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Raimundo Marrero, Philadelphia Division; special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert Manchak; special agents of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Stephen Donnelly; special agents of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patricia Tarasca in New York; and special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ricky J. Patel in Newark, with the investigation leading to the guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David E. Dauenheimer and Katherine M. Romano of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Health Care Fraud Unit in Newark.
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 Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.