Timothy W. Burke, also known as “Bill Burke,” “William Burke,” “Kerry Saunders,” “Pat Riley,” “Jim Caldwell,” “Jim Saunders,” “Tom Morrisey,” “Jimmy,” “Phil Burke,” “Phil,” “Burt,” “James Burke,” and “M. Soler,” 65, formerly of Easton, Connecticut, plead guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford, Connecticut, to fraud and tax evasion offenses stemming from a long-running fraud scheme that targeted distressed homeowners.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately 2010 and November 2015, Burke engaged in a scheme to defraud individuals, mortgage lenders and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by falsely representing to homeowners who were in, or facing, foreclosure on their homes that he would purchase their homes and pay off their mortgages. The distressed homeowners agreed to sign various documents, including quitclaim deeds, indemnification agreements, management agreements and third party authorization letters, which Burke presented to them on the understanding that, by signing the documents, they would be able to walk away from their homes without the burdens of their mortgage or other costs associated with home ownership. Burke also told homeowners that the process of negotiating with the lenders can take time and that, in the meantime, to ignore any notices regarding foreclosure. After he gained control of these houses, Burke rented out the properties to tenants by advertising the properties on craigslist.com and other means and falsely representing to tenants that Burke owned the property.
Burke or one of his agents then collected rent from tenants, in person, and Burke used the funds for his own benefit. Burke failed to negotiate with the homeowners’ mortgage lender or pay expenses associated with the home, including the homeowner’s mortgages and property taxes, and he failed to pay any rental income he was collecting to the homeowners. Many of the properties Burke purportedly purchased were ultimately foreclosed upon by the mortgage lender.
Burke undertook extensive efforts to disguise his true identity, and hide his criminal past, from his victims through the use of multiple aliases and business entities, and to conceal the sources of and expenditures from his criminal proceeds. Burke has been associated with multiple entities, including Quality Asset Management Services, LLC; Birmingham Investments, LLC; the Birmingham Group of Companies; Saunders Associates; New Haven Investments; Realty Partners Group; Preston Associates II; Landlord Maintenance Services, LLC; Turnkey Construction Services LLC; The Complete Handyman, LLC; and Woodbridge Associates.
In addition, between 1994 and 2012, Burke evaded paying approximately $403,726 in federal taxes.
In 2002, Burke was indicted by a federal grand jury in New Jersey on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, and equity skimming. Burke subsequently pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit both equity skimming and mail fraud, and he was sentenced to 60 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Burke was released from federal custody in approximately August 2007 and began his federal supervised release at that time. One of the special conditions of Burke’s supervised release was that he refrain from employment in the real estate business or mortgage industry. Based on his motion for early termination of his supervised release, the New Jersey federal court terminated his supervised release approximately one year early in August 2009.
Burke pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, and one count of tax evasion, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years. Judge Shea scheduled sentencing for April 18, 2017.
Burke has been detained since his arrest on November 19, 2015.
The guilty plea was announced by Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut. The matter is being investigated by Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with the critical assistance of the Middletown, Plainville, Easton and Coventry Police Departments, the Connecticut State Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David T. Huang and Sarah P. Karwan.