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Case Number: 3:22-cr-00082
Judge: David N. Hurd
Court: United States District Court for the Northern District of New York (Onondaga County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Syracuse
Description: Syracuse, New York criminal defense lawyer represented the Defendant charged with two counts of wire fraud and three counts of transacting in criminally derived property for fraudulently obtaining two Paycheck Program (PPP) loans during the pandemic, receiving over $140,000 in loan proceeds, and spending those proceeds, among other things, in three separate transactions each exceeding $10,000.
Ejembi Onah, age 60, of Ithaca, New York was convicted at the conclusion of a non-jury trial.
PPP loans were United States Small Business Administration (SBA)-guaranteed, forgivable loans authorized in the Coronavirus Aid Relief, Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was enacted in March 2020 to provide emergency financial assistance to Americans suffering adverse economic effects from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government’s evidence at trial established that Onah submitted two fraudulent PPP loan applications to two different lenders in June 2020. Each application included false information about the payroll and number of employees at Onah’s company, which he claimed was engaged in a seasonal nanotechnology business, and were supported by falsified tax returns. Onah spent the more than $140,000 he received to, among other things, pay back rent at his personal residence, lease a luxury car, and fund his expenses of daily living.
Sentencing is scheduled for February 15, 2024. Onah faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment for each wire fraud count and up to 10 years’ imprisonment for each money laundering count, a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of up to three years, restitution to the victims, and a fine of up $250,000 per count. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the statutes the defendant violated, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors.
In addition, the Court found during the trial that Onah must forfeit to the United States over $140,000 in loan proceeds and an additional nearly $100,000 of those proceeds that he spent in three different transactions exceeding $10,000 each.
HSI and IRS-CI investigated the case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael D. Gadarian and Joshua R. Rosenthal.
18:1343.F - Wire Fraud w/ Forfeiture Allegation
18:1957-5800.F - Engaging in Monetary Transactions in Property Derived from Specified Unlawful Activity w/ Forfeiture Allegations.
Outcome: Defendant was found guilty.