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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Vermont
Nikolas Kerest, United States Attorney
Contact: Media Inquiries/Public Affairs Officer
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Burlington Man Pleads Guilty to Gun Possession and Fraud Charges

BURLINGTON, Vt. — The U.S. Attorney’s Office stated Leon Delima, 35, of Burlington, Vermont, pleaded guilty today to gun possession and fraud charges in two cases before U.S. District Court Judge Christina Reiss.

According to the stipulated facts in the agreement between the parties, in the Spring of 2021, Delima devised a plan to fraudulently obtain COVID-relief funds from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). In April 2021, Delima successfully obtained a $17,833 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from the SBA by claiming that he operated a marketing consulting business from which he had earned $85,600 annually. In fact, Delima had no such business. He spent the loan funds over a two-week period for consumer goods, life expenses and non-business items, including high-end sneakers. With the April 2021 loan funds exhausted, in July 2021, Delima applied for a second SBA loan, this time claiming he operated a 45-employee pet-grooming business with gross revenues of $300,000 for the year prior to January 2020. SBA denied the second loan application. 

Additionally, according to the stipulated facts, on July 2, 2022, Delima, who was previously convicted of a felony offense, possessed a firearm that he fired into the air as he was walking along North Avenue in Burlington. Delima threw the gun aside before law enforcement could respond to the gunshots.

Delima pleaded guilty today to three offenses — wire fraud, which carries a maximum 20-year sentence; making a false statement in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the U.S. government, which carries a 5-year maximum sentence; and being a felon in possession of a firearm, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years. The actual sentences will be determined by the court with reference to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and U.S. Code. If accepted by the court, the plea agreement signed by Delima and the government recommends a sentence of 37 to 55 months.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office thanked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division (IRS CID), and the Burlington Police Department for their work on the two investigations of Delima.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugenia Cowles has handled the case for the government. Assistant Federal Public Defender Sara Puls represents Delima.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, visit

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.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities and measuring the results.


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