Wenham man pleads guilty to fraudulently obtaining $1.2 million in COVID relief funds

James Joseph Cohen submitted six applications for his businesses with false information.

A Wenham man pleaded guilty to bank fraud Thursday in connection with a scheme to get extra Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds from the CARES Act by submitting false applications.

James Joseph Cohen, 59, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud, according to a release from the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office. Cohen was charged on June 29, 2022.


Between April 2020 and September 2021, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, Cohen submitted six false applications to financial institutions and to the Small Business Administration in order to receive pandemic-related relief funds on behalf of companies that he controlled.

In the applications, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, Cohen put false information for the revenues of his companies, the number of people he employed, or how much he was paying his employees during the year prior.


In total, Cohen fraudulently obtained about $1.2 million in pandemic relief funds based on the false applications, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Cohen’s sentencing has been scheduled for Oct. 26.

The charge of bank fraud carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $1 million or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater.


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