NEWARK, N.J. – A father and son from Bergen County, New Jersey, were sentenced today to 27 months in prison and eight months of home detention, respectively, for their roles in a scheme to use straw buyers and short sales on properties to defraud mortgage lenders out of hundreds of thousands of dollars and to avoid paying taxes on the proceeds of the scheme, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
George Bussanich Sr., 60, of Park Ridge, New Jersey, was sentenced to 27 months in prison. He previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to a superseding information charging him with one count of bank fraud conspiracy and one count of tax evasion. His son, George Bussanich Jr., 39, of Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, was sentenced to eight months of home detention. He previously pleaded guilty to tax evasion. Judge Cecchi imposed both sentences today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Between 2009 and 2012, Bussanich Sr. and Bussanich Jr. conspired to defraud mortgage lenders through the sham short sales of two properties, located on Jefferson Avenue in Emerson, New Jersey, and Lillian Street in Park Ridge.
Bussanich Sr. controlled various purported medical clinics and surgical centers in New Jersey. He recruited his business partner and an employee from a sleep clinic in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, to pose as legitimate, unrelated buyers of the properties. In order to conceal his involvement, Bussanich Sr. used a business entity he controlled to fund each short sale transaction and the subsequent repurchase of those properties. Bussanich Jr., the owner of record of both properties, negotiated the short sales with the lenders using materially false information that misrepresented the circumstances of the short sales, the relationships of the parties, and the source of funding for the transactions.
Approximately two years after the fraudulent short sales, Bussanich Sr. bought the properties back from the straw purchasers using money that he owed his business partner from an earlier venture.
Bussanich Sr. and Bussanich Jr. also failed to disclose on their tax returns income that they received from the purported medical clinics and surgical centers. Bussanich Sr. and Bussanich Jr. used those funds to purchase high-end luxury vehicles and to purchase official bank checks to fund the fraudulent short sales.
In addition to the prison terms, Judge Cecchi sentenced Bussanich Sr. to five years of supervised release and Bussanich Jr. to three years of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, and special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencings.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ari B. Fontecchio of the Office’s Economic Crimes Unit, and Nicholas P. Grippo, Attorney in Charge of the Trenton Office.