Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced that a state grand jury indicted a father and son from Bergen County for allegedly defrauding investors and mortgage lenders of more than $2.5 million through an investment scam involving Jersey Shore real estate.
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George Bussanich, Sr., 65, of Park Ridge, New Jersey, and George Bussanich, Jr., 43, of Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, were indicted on charges of conspiracy, theft, and money laundering in connection with the scam, involving 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 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.
That investigation was conducted 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).
Bussanich Sr., Bussanich Jr., another family member, Melanie Whitney, and others were previously charged on February 5, 2021, in a state criminal complaint on related charges. Whitney, the daughter of Bussanich Sr. and sister of Bussanich Jr., pleaded guilty on March 7, 2023, to theft by deception and is awaiting sentencing.
As part of the scam, Whitney misled two investors into partnering with her to invest in residential properties that could be purchased, renovated, and sold for a profit.
The mortgage lenders provided additional financing to purchase and renovate the homes based on the increase in property value anticipated from the renovation work.
Meanwhile, the true roles and involvement of Bussanich Sr. and Bussanich Jr. in the alleged scam were concealed from the victims.
The indictment alleges that Bussanich Sr. and Bussanich Jr. largely diverted the victims’ money for personal use through entities they controlled. Both of those defendants allegedly also 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. ■