Bartonsville Man Arrested for Pandemic Fraud

In an official release from The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Nazim Hassam, age 70, of Bartonsville, Pennsylvania, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion to 18 months in prison for money laundering stemming from an illegal transaction conducted with funds obtained through a fraudulent pandemic assistance loan application.

According to United States Attorney John C. Gurganus, in April and June of 2020, Hassam applied for and received two loans under the federal Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) while making false statements on the applications. In 2019, Hassam was indicted along with two businesses he co-owns, the Pocono Plaza Inn and Om Sri Sai, Inc., on felony charges related to sex trafficking and drug trafficking. But when asked on the loan applications whether he or the companies applying for the loans were under indictment, Hassam falsely answered, “No.” Hassam fraudulently obtained one loan for each of the two corporate entities totaling $89,308. Hassam then conducted unlawful monetary transactions with the bulk of those funds. Specifically related to the count to which Hassam pleaded guilty, Hassam obtained $61,000 as a PPP loan for Om Sri Sai, Inc.. This company owns and operates a hotel in Bartonsville, Pennsylvania, and then transferred the funds from the corporation’s bank account to pay down a personal line of credit he held in his own name. As part of the plea agreement with the Government, Hassam admitted that he also committed the underlying fraud offenses in addition to the money laundering charge to which he pleaded guilty. Hassam paid both loans back to the issuing banks with interest after learning of the investigation but before sentencing.

Hassam’s sentence was enhanced because he committed this crime while on pretrial release in the drug and sex trafficking case. Hassam was previously convicted in that case after a trial and sentenced to 60 months in prison, along with a $150,000 fine. In this case, Judge Mannion ordered that 12 months out of the 18-month sentence will run concurrently with the earlier sentence, and six months will run consecutively, as required by statute.

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean A. Camoni prosecuted the case.

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