News Department

Sussex County couple charged with COVID-19 loan fraud scheme

NEW JERSEY – A New Jersey and Texas man and woman were arrested in Texas on charges related to fraudulently obtaining Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) totaling approximately $790,000, according to U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger.

Diana Valteri, 40, and Edmond Haxhillari, 42, of Sparta Township, and Cypress were charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering, Sellinger said.

Both are scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jessica S. Allen in Newark federal court on July 7, Sellinger said.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Valteri and Haxhillari are a married couple who from June through August 2020, participated in a fraudulent scheme to receive $790,000 in COVID-19 emergency relief loans and cash advances meant for distressed small businesses under the EIDL program.

Valteri and Haxhillari submitted fraudulent loan applications on behalf of several businesses that purported to have employees and revenue, but were actually shell companies with no actual business operations. After receiving the EIDL funds based on their fraud, Valteri and Haxhillari diverted the proceeds for their own personal gain.

The wire fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and the money laundering charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Each charge also carries a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain to the defendants or gross loss to the victim, whichever is greatest.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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