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Restaurateur Pleads Guilty To Large-Scale COVID-19 Pandemic Loan Fraud And Interstate Threats | USAO-SDNY

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that restaurateur BESIM KUKAJ pled guilty now to financial institution fraud conspiracy and building interstate threats.  KUKAJ pled guilty before U.S. District Decide Andrew L. Carter.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As he admitted in courtroom now, Besim Kukaj conspired with many others to try to protected far more than $3.5 million dollars in federal government-backed loans supposed for enterprises devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Kukaj advised financial institutions that his places to eat operated with dozens of staff, when in truth he used significantly less men and women. These brazen lies tricked banking institutions into sending him somewhere around $1.5 million in loans.  Even just after his arrest, Kukaj continued to post phony personal loan apps.  Kukaj now faces the chance of a major time period of incarceration for these significant crimes.”

In accordance to the allegations contained in filings in Manhattan federal court:

The Coronavirus Help, Aid, and Financial Security (“CARES”) Act is a federal legislation enacted on March 29, 2020, made to present emergency fiscal aid to the tens of millions of Us residents who are suffering the financial outcomes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.  1 supply of reduction furnished by the CARES Act was the authorization of hundreds of billions of bucks in forgivable loans to tiny companies for task retention and selected other fees by way of the Modest Small business Administration’s Paycheck Protection System (“PPP”).  Pursuant to the CARES Act, the amount of money of PPP money a business enterprise is suitable to receive is determined by the variety of staff members used by the small business and their normal payroll fees.  Corporations making use of for a PPP mortgage must supply documentation to confirm that they have beforehand paid out workers the payment represented in the loan application. 

From at least in or about April 2020 through at the very least in or about July 2020, KUKAJ, working with other people, submitted purposes for PPP financial loans to numerous financial institutions on behalf of numerous eating places KUKAJ or a relative of his owned.  He did so on behalf of places to eat that had been no for a longer time running or that had far much less workers than had been listed on the PPP financial loans.  In complete, KUKAJ and his co-conspirators used for dozens of PPP financial loans, totaling around $3.9 million, from a lot of money institutions, utilizing quite a few different corporate entities, and they productively gained at the very least $1.5 million in PPP financial loans.  KUKAJ was arrested in Oct 2020 and charged with lender fraud conspiracy and afterwards indicted for the similar costs in December 2020.  He was produced on pretrial release pursuant to an purchase that notified him of the prospective impact of committing a felony offense while on pretrial launch.

In January 2021, however, KUKAJ filed yet another false personal loan software for one particular of the identical restaurants he experienced beforehand submitted a phony software for in July 2020.  The exact thirty day period, KUKAJ also asked for PPP financial loans for six enterprises he owned and submitted untrue documentation about every single of the 6 businesses.  These January 2021 purposes and requests were not funded by the banking companies to whom he submitted the untrue paperwork. 

Separately, on November 6, 2019, at the urging of KUKAJ, a co-conspirator of his put a phone connect with, which traveled in interstate commerce, to a sufferer, during which contact the co-conspirator threatened physical violence against the victim.  KUKAJ instructed his co-conspirator to area this simply call simply because KUKAJ owed funds to the victim.

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KUKAJ, 42, of New Jersey, pled guilty to 1 rely of conspiracy to dedicate bank fraud, which carries a greatest sentence of 40 several years in prison, and a person rely of producing interstate threats, which carries a most sentence of 5 many years in prison.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, KUKAJ also agreed to spend forfeiture in the amount of money of $1,500,000.

The optimum prospective sentences in this situation are prescribed by Congress and are furnished here for informational applications only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the choose.  KUKAJ is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Carter on March 9, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. 

Mr. Williams praised the superb perform of FBI New York’s Balkans and Center East Structured Crime Squad, as very well as the Little Organization Administration Business of the Inspector Normal, the Social Safety Administration Business office of the Inspector Normal, and the New York Point out Liquor Authority for their investigative endeavours and ongoing help and assistance with the scenario.  

The prosecution of this case is staying overseen by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Legal Enterprises Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Samuel L. Raymond and David R. Felton are in charge of the case.