Hotelier stole $13.8M and hid $27M from government. He’ll serve under 4 years in prison

George Dfouni lived well for many years as a top executive for a hospitality company that had hotels in New York and New Jersey.

And about a decade ago he took his “passion” for singing to a professional level, he says, recording songs and an album, and boasting that he’s topped the charts many times in the Middle East, and his native Lebanon.

His personal webpage and social media pages are filled with videos and pictures of him performing, and snapshots of him mugging with revelers at night clubs and photo ops. He sometimes used the moniker “GD.” And he liked to gamble.

George Dfouni (PRNewsfoto) 

Federal authorities say – and Dfouni has admitted – much of the lavish lifestyle was funded by fraud.

Dfouni, 47, of Wayne, was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday. He pleaded guilty in January to wire fraud and tax evasion.

For about 20 years, ending in 2015, Dfouni was the chief operating officer for a company that federal prosecutors identified only as “Company A.”

Investigators say from 2007 to 2015, he negotiated several contracts with two other companies that leased hotels from Dfouni’s employer.

The companies paid millions to Company A, plus a signing bonus for Dfouni received, who received the full payments himself, prosecutors say.

He was supposed to subtract his bonus, and send the balances to his employer, but instead he skimmed the payments to support his lifestyle and gambling expenses.

In all, he embezzled $13.8 million from his company.

During this time span, he also failed to report $27.7 million in income to the Internal Revenue Service.

In 2017, he declared bankruptcy, and courts filing show he reported earning about $11,000 per month as a consultant, but after mortgage payments, car payments and typical expenses involving his children, he netted just $7 per month.

And he had about $1,000 in his checking account.

In August, as his sentencing loomed, Dfouni issued a press release saying he’d written a book, “Hard Lessons,” that would be released within a few weeks.

In the announcement, the “Lebanese-born, British-educated, and a proud American citizen,” as he described himself, acknowledged his criminal case, saying he would would take responsibility in detailing his life story.

“Mistakes and bad decisions were made, in addition to being betrayed by a close personal friend that let me down to this horrible path. I truly regret my actions and I feel very remorseful and people need to know that,” he wrote.

“Hard Lessons is about more than the American Dream; it’s about the effects of carelessly wandering into muddled waters until it was too late,” said Dfouni. 

Facing possible prison, he wrote that he was buoyed by his family and close friends, and remained positive and hopeful, saying: “Music is my therapy.”

Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @kevintshea. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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