Massachusetts man to plead guilty to pandemic relief fraud

July 1, 2022 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts man has agreed to plead guilty to fraudulently obtaining about $1.2 million in federal loans intended to help businesses struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

James Joseph Cohen, 59, of Wenham, between April 2020 and September 2021 submitted six false applications in which he overstated the earnings, the number of employees, and the payroll for two companies he controlled, according to federal prosecutors.

In one case, he said a company had $2.8 million in annual revenues, when it no revenues at all, according to court documents.

He used the money to pay personal and business loans, including for a mortgage, car payments, tuition, and to a Maine resort, according to law enforcement, which were not allowed under loan rules.

A date at which he will plead guilty to bank fraud has not yet been scheduled.

Cohen’s federal public defender said he had no comment.

Although he could face a sentence of up to 30 years in prison on a bank fraud charge, the defense and prosecution has agreed to a sentence of 12 months of probation and full restitution of nearly $1.2 million, according to court documents.