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The South Asian Insider

Indian-American dentist pleads guilty to stealing $500,000 in Covid relief money



Ranjan Rajbanshi, who ran a dental practice in California, received over USD 850,000 in Covid-19 relief money from April 2020 through February 2022.

(Sai Buearu) - A 46-year-old Indian-origin dentist in the US has pleaded guilty to stealing USD 500,000 in Covid-19 relief money for two years and using it for improper personal expenditures such as investments, an official statement said.
Ranjan Rajbanshi, who ran a dental practice in California, received over USD 850,000 in Covid-19 relief money from April 2020 through February 2022 from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for specified business purposes such as facility costs, payroll, and protective equipment for him and his staff.
On Monday, Rajbanshi pleaded guilty to using USD 500,000 of the relief money for improper personal expenditures such as investments, the Department of Justice said in a press release.
He agreed to pay that money back to the government before his sentencing.
The case came to light after the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the SBA Office of Inspector General, and HHS Office of Inspector General conducted an investigation, the press release said.
Rajbanshi faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and fine of USD 250,000. He is scheduled to be sentenced by a US District Judge on December 4.
Set up in 2021, the Covid-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors.
It was set up to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programmes to prevent the same.