California dentist pleads guilty to stealing $500,000 in COVID-19 relief money


Ranjan Rajbanshi, D.D.S., 46, of Bakersfield and Santa Barbara, California, pleaded guilty August 21, 2023, to stealing $500,000 in COVID-19 relief money.

The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California Phillip A. Talbert.

According to the press release which quoted from court records, Rajbanshi ran a dental practice in Bakersfield and Santa Barbara.

From April 2020 through February 2022, he received more than $850,000 in COVID-19 relief money from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He represented to the government that he would only use the relief money for specified business purposes such as facility costs, payroll, and protective equipment for him and his staff.

Rajbanshi subsequently used $500,000 of the relief money “for improper personal expenditures such as investments,” the press release said. He has agreed to pay that money back to the government before his sentencing. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ana de Alba on Dec. 4, 2023, when he faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and fine of $250,000. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

The Justice Department said 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 (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at



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