A Hudson Valley man stole nearly $5 million in COVID-19 relief loans meant for small businesses struggling during the pandemic.

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Jean R. Lavanture, a/k/a “JR,” a/k/a “Rudy Lavanture,” 48, of Saugerties pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bank fraud and conspiring to commit wire fraud, and admitted to fraudulently obtaining $4,870,781 in government-backed loans meant for businesses struggling with the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Mr. Lavanture and his co-conspirator Sean M. Andre took millions from COVID-19 relief programs, to the detriment of lenders, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the legitimate businesses that could have put this money to good use," Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon stated.

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In pleading guilty, Lavanture admitted to conspiring with 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 companies that Lavanture controlled. Each loan application grossly misrepresented each company’s employees and payroll. Each application also included false corporate tax documents that Andre created as part of the scheme. Lavanture admitted that none of his companies actually had a payroll or employees.

FBI agents arrested Lavanture in September 2020 at a 5.6-acre New Jersey estate that he is alleged to have bought with the fraudulently obtained funds, officials say.

Lavanture agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $4,870,781, and to forfeit proceeds of the fraud, including a motel property he purchased in Rockaway Beach, Missouri; $476,253.25 in U.S. currency; a 2007 Bentley Continental; a 2013 BMW X5; and the balances of 19 bank accounts at a total of 9 banks, into which he deposited fraud proceeds.

Lavanture also admitted that, on his own, he fraudulently obtained $561,200 in Economic Injury Disaster Loans (“EIDLs”) from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Lavanture faces up to 30 years in prison for bank fraud conspiracy, and up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud conspiracy, when he is sentenced on January 6, 2022.

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