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Paramus Man Charged With COVID-19 Fraud and Price-Gouging of Personal Protective Equipment

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Paramus NJ,  Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig today announced an update on the Office’s enforcement efforts to combat COVID-19 related fraud, including schemes targeting the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, and Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs, and schemes involving the price-gouging and hoarding of critical personal protective equipment.

In the past year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey has charged 18 defendants, including individuals and companies, with offenses based on fraud schemes, price-gouging, hoarding, and other crimes connected to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Exploitation of the global pandemic for illicit financial gain victimizes consumers, taxpayers, and federal programs alike,” Acting U.S. Attorney Honig said. “We are working with our law enforcement partners to investigate these schemes and bring to justice all those who would try to take advantage of the programs established by Congress to help America through the pandemic. We will vigorously pursue anyone trying to steal from those programs, engage in the hoarding or price-gouging of necessary personal protective equipment, or otherwise defraud the public.”

Most recently, three defendants were charged last month in connection with an EIDL scheme: George Leguen, 46, of Paramus, New Jersey, and Shyteek Stevenson, 30, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, were charged in separate complaints with one count each of wire fraud and money laundering. Marc Orival, 37, of College Park, Georgia, is charged in a third complaint with two counts each of wire fraud and money laundering.

Congress passed a $2.2 trillion economic relief bill known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March 2020. The Act is designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Anticipating the need to protect the integrity of these taxpayer funds and to otherwise protect Americans from fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Justice immediately stood up multiple efforts dedicated to identifying, investigating, and prosecuting such fraud. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey continues to lead the Department of Justice’s Hoarding and Price-Gouging Task Force.

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