Bloomsburg woman sentenced to 12 months in jail for $430,000 fraud scheme, including $300,000 in Covid relief fraud | USAO-MDPA

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SCRANTON — The United States Attorney’s Office for the Intermediate District of Pennsylvania announced today that Vicki Hackenberg, 57, of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, was sentenced by U.S. District Chief Judge Matthew W. Brann to 12 months in jail for perpetrating a bank fraud and money laundering scheme that included nearly $300,000 in COVID-19 relief guaranteed by the Small Business Administration through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

The PPP is designed to help small businesses facing financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded by the CARES Act of March 2020, PPP funds are offered as forgivable loans, provided certain criteria are met, including the use of funds for employee payroll, mortgage interest, lease and expenses. of public services.

According to U.S. Attorney John C. Gurganus, Hackenberg pleaded guilty to a money laundering conspiracy involving his co-defendant, Darryl Corradini, and others. The conspirators set up a shell company, CGM Realty LLC, and opened bank accounts and a Bitcoin trading account in the company’s name, using fake and falsified documents. The conspirators allegedly used the accounts to receive more than $135,000 in fraudulently obtained funds and more than $296,000 in a PPP loan obtained with forged and falsified documents. This documentation included false information and certifications about the salary obligations of CGM Realty LLC employees and the intention to use the funds for approved purposes, when in fact CGM Realty LLC had no employees or legitimate business operations. Falsified IRS documentation was also included in PPP’s application, containing false information about CGM Realty LLC’s non-existent payroll obligations. Over $350,000 was then used to buy Bitcoins, a type of cryptocurrency.

At sentencing, Chief Justice Brann pointed to Hackenberg’s prior state conviction for a similar fraud offense, noting that she was on probation at the time she committed the offense in question. In addition to Hackenberg’s jail sentence, Chief Justice Brann also ordered him to pay $431,289 to the victims of his crimes. Hackenberg’s co-defendant, Darryl Corradini, also pleaded guilty to a money laundering conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing.

The case was investigated by officers from the Criminal Investigations Division of the Internal Revenue Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip J. Caraballo prosecuted the case.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information about the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about alleged 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 NCDF’s online complaint form at: https://www. .justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

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