A man from New Jersey is sentenced to over two years in prison for stealing more than $481K in federal COVID relief funding.
A New Jersey man was sentenced to more than two years in federal prison on Thursday for stealing more than $481,000 in COVID relief monies.
Bernard Lopez, 40, of Sayreville, was sentenced to 30 months in prison by US District Judge Peter Sheridan via video conference on Thursday for collecting fraudulent Payment Protection Program [PPP] monies for a fictitious business and depositing a stolen, altered treasury check totaling $211,886.87.
Lopez deposited the changed US Treasury check into a corporation account he established in North Brunswick under the name Pezlo Management, LLC. He then moved or withdrew monies from the bogus corporate account, evading detection by the bank.
Lopez filed a bogus PPP loan application in June 2020 on behalf of "Company-1," a fictitious business he claimed to run.
He said the fictitious company employed 25 people and incurred monthly payroll expenses of around $192,000, in addition to various mortgage and utility expenses. Lopez's application was approved, and he got $481,502 in emergency relief payments. Prosecutors allege that he then utilized the money for personal purposes.
He was arrested in Florida in July 2020 and later returned to New Jersey by officials following a multi-agency probe.
Lopez was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $137,000 in restitution and forfeit $481,502, police said.