Ithaca man charged with fraud related to COVID-19 relief funding

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BINGHAMTON, NEW YORK (WETM) – Ejembi Onah, 58, of Ithaca, was arrested Wednesday on federal wire fraud and money laundering complaint alleging that he fraudulently obtained approximately $150,000 in COVID-19 relief funds.

The announcement was made by Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon; Kevin M. Kelly, Special Agent in Charge, Buffalo Division of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Jonathan D. Larsen, Special Agent in Charge, New York Field Office, Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-Criminal Investigation.

The criminal complaint alleges that between April 1, 2020, and March 3, 2021, Onah received approximately $150,000 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), which were issued by two banks and the Small Business Administration to two companies he controlled. The complaint further alleges that in support of the loan applications, Onah submitted fraudulent tax documents and fabricated bank statements. 

Onah made his initial appearance in court yesterday in Binghamton, New York, before United States Magistrate Judge Miroslav Lovric, and was released with conditions.

If convicted of wire fraud, Onah faces up to 30 years in prison, up to five years of post-imprisonment supervised release, and a maximum fine of $1 million.  If convicted of engaging in transfers of wire fraud proceeds of a value greater than $10,000, Onah faces up to 10 years in prison, up to three years of post-imprisonment supervised release, and a maximum fine of $250,000. 

This case is being investigated by U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and IRS-Criminal Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew D. Beaty and Joshua R. Rosenthal.

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