Erik Sobkiewicz, 51, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of bank fraud for his role in multiple real estate schemes involving, among other things, misrepresentation of collateral, lien position and forgery.
The defendant pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge David Cercone.
Sobkiewicz was an attorney involved in a number of interrelated schemes. The first scheme, involved Sobkiewicz embezzling funds from the law firm that employed him. He used the resources of the law firm to advance businesses that he, unbeknownst to the law firm, controlled. He had the law firm invoice those businesses, knowing that the businesses would not pay the bills. The billings lulled the law firm into believing that what the defendant was doing was legitimate. In addition, he diverted money from a real estate closing owed to the law firm to a personal account, and he diverted client funds held in the law firm’s escrow account to his personal account.
Sobkiewicz was also involved in several loan fraud schemes. He applied for a series of loans from Indiana First Savings Bank. For the last of the loans, which was for $350,000, Sobkiewicz used the securities account of an individual as collateral for the loan without that individual’s permission, and he falsely represented that Indiana First Savings Bank would be in first lien position with regard to the property serving as collateral for the loan when, in fact, Indiana First Savings Bank was not going to be in first lien position because of a previous loan Sobkiewicz obtained collateralized by that property.
Another loan fraud scheme involved Milestone Bank and a property in Philadelphia that Sobkiewicz claimed he was developing. As with Indiana First Savings Bank, Sobkiewicz falsely represented to Milestone Bank, the lender in the Philadelphia transaction, that Milestone Bank would sit in first lien position when, in fact, Milestone Bank was going to be in second lien position because of a previous loan obtained by Sobkiewicz and collateralized by this property. Sobkiewicz forged a mortgage satisfaction of the lender in first lien position to make it appear as though Milestone Bank would be in first lien position.
In addition, Milestone Bank wanted to see that Sobkiewicz had invested his own money into the Philadelphia property and that he had equity in the property. He was able to show them a $600,000 investment of purportedly his own money. In reality, however, the $600,000 was not Sobkiewicz’s money. He obtained that money by soliciting the investment of another individual using a series of misrepresentations, including that the investor would be in second lien position behind only Milestone Bank with regard to the Philadelphia property and in first lien position with regard to other properties owned by Sobkiewicz. In reality, the investor is in third lien position with regard to the Philadelphia property in the second lien position with regard to the other properties.
Judge Cercone scheduled sentencing for May 21, 2015, at 10 a.m.. The law provides for a total sentence of 50 years in prison, a fine of $1,250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced the guilty plea.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Sobkiewicz.
Assistant United States Attorney Brendan T. Conway is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government. Mr. Conway provided the following information to the Court at the time of the plea: