A father, son, and daughter from North Jersey tricked investors out of millions of dollars as part of the family's third major scam, according to authorities.

George Bussanich Sr., 65, of Park Ridge, and his son George Bussanich Jr., 43, of Upper Saddle River were indicted by a state grand jury, the Attorney General's Office said Monday.

Authorities said the scam ran from August 2018 through March 2020.

The family is accused of tricking investors and mortgage lenders out of $2.5 million to buy, renovate, and flip four homes in Ocean County.

George Bussanich Sr. (NJOAG)
George Bussanich Sr. (NJOAG)

Melanie Whitney, the son of Bussanich Sr., was the face of the scam, officials said. She convinced two investors to partner with her in the real estate scam while her father and brother laundered the victims' funds, according to the OAG.

Whitney pleaded guilty in March to a count of theft by deception in connection to the scheme.

Bussanich Sr. and Jr. are both charged with second-degree conspiracy, two counts of second-degree theft by deception, three counts of second-degree money laundering, and one count of fourth-degree credit card fraud. Bussanich Jr. is also charged with fourth-degree falsifying records by submitting a false loan application to a lender.

NJ family's history of scams

Bussanich Sr. and Bussanich Jr. were among members of the family who pleaded guilty to security fraud and money laundering charges in connection to two prior scams that targeted retirees, the OAG said in 2019. Most of the victims were scammed more than once.

George Bussanich Jr. (NJOAG)
George Bussanich Jr. (NJOAG)

One scam that prosecutors called a Ponzi scam netted the Bussanich family millions that they used to buy multiple homes and seven luxury cars including two Maserati Quattroportes and a Ferrari F430 Spider.

The family agreed to a $5.5 million settlement in 2014 with the Bureau of Securities, within the Division of Consumer Affairs, to resolve a lawsuit that accused them of cheating investors out of $4 million between May 2009 and July 2013.

Then between September 2014 and September 2015, the Bussanich family swindled 15 of the original 26 victims out of another $3 million with a fake business venture.

Scam family's "risk of re-offense"

Bussanich Jr. was sentenced on Jan. 24, 2020 to eight years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Robert Vinci in 2020 for the prior schemes.

“There is absolutely no doubt there is a risk of re-offense,” Vinci was quoted as saying in an NJ.com report.

Bussanich Jr. was released on parole less than two years later on Sept. 20, 2021, according to Department of Corrections records.

Meantime, his father received a ten-year prison sentence. Bussanich Sr. was released on parole months later on July 14, 2022.

His wife Wilma Bussanich was sentenced to five years of probation for her role in the scams.

Includes previous reporting by Erin Vogt.

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