Ulster man pleads guilty in conspiring to commit COVID relief fraud

News
Fraud charges

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Jean Lavanture—also known as “JR” or “Rudy Lavanture”—48, of Saugerties, pleaded guilty to conspiring to bank fraud and wire fraud, obtaining around $5 million in government-backed loans meant for businesses struggling from the effects of the COVID pandemic.

Lavanture, with co-conspirator Sean Andre, 31, of Brooklyn, took millions from COVID relief programs lenders and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

In pleading guilty, Lavanture admitted to conspiracy with Andre to obtaining $4,309,581 in paycheck protection program loans between June and August 2020, by submitting fraudulent loan applications in the names of four companies that Lavanture controlled.

“Lavanture stole over $4.5 million from a government program designed to help small businesses struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Janeen DiGuiseppi, FBI special agent in charge. “His coconspirator’s fraud scheme impacted the ability of an untold number of businesses, while selfishly lining their own pockets.”

Each loan application grossly misrepresented company employees and payroll, which falsely included corporate tax documents that Andre created as part of the scheme, that Lavanture admits none of his companies actually had a payroll or employees.

Andre pled guilty on May 26, 2021, of conspiring to commit bank fraud and conspiring to commit wire fraud, and faces sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 6, 2022. 

Lavanture is the third person to plead guilty in this case. Jamur Pharmes, 43, of Hampton, Georgia, pleaded guilty on July 1 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud with Lavanture, and to submitting fraudulent economic injury disaster loans (EIDL) applications in the names of two companies connected to Pharmes.

Pharmes obtained around $159,900 as a result of the scheme and paid a $10,000 fee to Lavanture. Pharmes is scheduled to be sentenced on December 9. 

Lavanture also admitted on his own, he obtained $561,200 in EIDLs from the SBA.

Lavanture agreed to pay restitution, forfeit the proceeds of the fraud, including a motel property he purchased in Rockaway Beach, Missouri, a Bentley Continental, 2013 BMW X5; and bank balances to which he deposited fraud proceeds.

Lavanture, a citizen of Hatti has been In custody since Sept. 17, 2020, and could face 30 years for bank fraud conspiracy, with up to 20 years for wire fraud conspiracy, when he is sentenced on Jan. 6, 2022, by Chief U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Download our news app

App Store Link
Google Play Link

Latest PODCAST episode

More PODCAST: On the Story with Trishna Begam
CHECK OUT OUR NEW APP FEATURES

Latest COVID-19 News

More COVID-19