SAUGERTIES, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A Saugerties man has been sentenced for conspiring to commit COVID-19 relief fraud. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said Jean R. Lavanture, 49, of Saugerties, was sentenced to five years in prison.

DOJ said Lavanture was convicted for conspiring to commit bank fraud and conspiring to commit wire fraud. He pleaded guilty on Sep. 2, 2021.

Lavanture admitted to fraudulently obtaining $4,870,781 in government loans meant for businesses struggling in the COVID pandemic. He conspired with an associate, Sean Andre, to obtain $4,309,581 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans between June and August 2020, by submitting fraudulent loan applications in the names of four inactive companies that Lavanture controlled.

The DOJ said each loan application misrepresented each company’s employees and payroll. Each application also included false corporate tax documents that Andre created. Lavanture admitted that none of his companies actually had a payroll or employees. 

Lavanture also admitted that he fraudulently obtained $561,200 in Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Lavanture was imposed a 3-year term of supervised release after prison and ordered to pay $4,870,781 in restitution. He was also ordered to forfeit proceeds of the fraud, including a motel property he purchased in Missouri, $476,253.25 in U.S. currency, two cars, and the balances of 19 bank accounts.

Andre, 31, of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty on May 26, 2021 to conspiring to commit bank fraud and conspiring to commit wire fraud. His sentencing is scheduled for February 24, 2022.

Jamur Pharmes, 44, of Hampton, Georgia, pleaded guilty on July 1, 2021 to conspiring to commit wire fraud.  He admitted that he and Lavanture conspired to submit fraudulent EIDL applications in the names of two companies connected to Pharmes. The DOJ said he obtained about $159,900 and paid a $10,000 fee to Lavanture. Pharmes is scheduled to be sentenced on February 24.