An Irvine man has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution after pleading guilty in a scheme to obtain more than $2 million in fraudulent disaster relief funds intended to help businesses during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal prosecutors announced Monday, Feb. 13.

Jeffrey Scott Hedges, 51, was sentenced Jan. 30 after pleading guilty in August to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution and one count of aggravated identity theft for submitting fraudulent disaster relief fund applications.

From April 2020 to January 2021, the U.S. Justice Department said Hedges schemed to fraudulently obtain Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan funds through programs Congress had enacted to help businesses survive through the pandemic. Hedges is accused of submitting more than a dozen applications that contained fake tax returns and payroll records.  The funds were then used to make mortgage payments, pay living and medical expenses and to purchase luxury vehicles, prosecutors said.

In a related case, a Ventura man, 51-year-old Manuel Asadurian, was sentenced Monday to 51 months in federal prison. He must also pay more than $1 million in restitution. Asadurian pleaded guilty last year to one count of wire fraud affecting a financial institution.