An Atlantic County man has been sentenced for laundering the proceeds of fraudulently obtained Paycheck Protection Program loans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jeremy Earley of Egg Harbor Township, NJ, Sentenced

Federal authorities say 42-year-old Jeremy Earley of Egg Harbor Township and Lilburn, GA, received a 30-month sentence on Monday after pleading guilty to one count of engaging in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property.

According to officials, in 2020 and 2021, two companies owned by Earley received loans totaling more than $1.3 million from the Paycheck Protection Program, which was a federal program that provided forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and some other expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The loans were approved based on fraudulent applications submitted by another individual stating that the companies had dozens of employees and monthly payrolls of $145,000 and $382,400, respectively. The applications also contained forged tax forms.

Tax Fraud or Slave to Taxes
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In fact, authorities say Earley’s businesses had no employees other than himself and paid minimal to no wages.

After receiving the PPP loan proceeds, Earley wrote checks totaling nearly $400,000 to Rhonda Thomas, who submitted the loan applications, to compensate her for her role in the scheme.

Earley also wired $85,000 out of a bank account he controlled after being advised by federal agents not to spend the money because it constituted proceeds of bank fraud.

Thomas previously pleaded guilty to bank fraud conspiracy and money laundering and was sentenced to five years in prison.

In addition to the prison term, Earley was sentenced to three years of supervised release.

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