Bergen County father & son charged in ‘fix-and-flip’ property investment scam

A Bergen County father and son have been indicted on charges of defrauding investors and mortgage lenders of more than $2.5 million through an investment scam involving Jersey Shore real estate.

George Bussanich, Sr., 65, of Park Ridge, and George Bussanich, Jr., 43, of Upper Saddle River, were indicted by a state grand jury on charges of conspiracy, theft, and money laundering in connection with the scam, which involved the purchase and renovation of residential homes for the purpose of profitable resale, so-called “fix and flip” properties.

The alleged offenses occurred from August 2018 to March 2020.

An investigation by the Attorney General’s Office of Securities Fraud and Financial Crimes Prosecutions (OSFFCP) and the Violence Suppression and Organized Crime Bureau within the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) showed that the defendants deceived victims into believing they were funding the purchase, renovation, and resale of four residential homes in Ocean County, New Jersey — two properties in Ship Bottom, one in Manahawkin, and another in Surf City.

The defendants allegedly concealed their true roles and involvement in the scam from the victims and largely diverted the victims’ money for personal use through entities they controlled.

Both defendants also allegedly laundered the stolen funds through bank accounts and corporate entities they controlled to promote the scam, conceal their involvement, and disguise the nature of the stolen money.

In addition, Bussanich Jr. is accused of submitting false loan applications to a lender to obtain financing for the real estate investment scam.

“These defendants allegedly defrauded investors and mortgage lenders for personal gain,” said Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “We will remain steadfast in holding them accountable to deter these defendants and others from engaging in investment scams in New Jersey.”

“These defendants cannot be allowed to prey on victims without fear of consequences,” said OSFFCP Legal Chief Pablo Quiñones. “Bussanich Sr. and Bussanich Jr. allegedly deceived investors and mortgage lenders as part of a ‘fix-and-flip’ property investment scam and brazenly laundered the theft proceeds to enrich themselves. Our Office will continue to stand vigilant against financial fraud and do our part to ensure these offenders are brought to justice.”

The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Assignment Judge Robert T. Lougy in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Bergen County, where the defendants will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment.

The indictment charges Bussanich Sr. and Bussanich Jr. with conspiracy (2nd degree), two counts of theft by deception (2nd degree), three counts of money laundering (2nd degree), and one count of credit card fraud (4th degree). Bussanich Jr. was also charged with falsifying records (4th degree).

Deputy Attorney General Janet R. Bosi within OSFFCP is handling this matter, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Adam Heck and Legal Chief Quiñones. DCJ Detective John Cicchino and retired DCJ Lt. Patrick Sole conducted the investigation with the assistance of Deputy Attorney General Amy Sieminski.

The charges in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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