Jury Finds Appraiser Guilty of Mortgage Fraud

Allison Tussey —  June 12, 2014 — 3 Comments

James Lignelli, 59, Presto, Pennsylvania, was found guilty by a federal jury of three counts of bank fraud, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

The defendant was tried before United States District Judge Terrence F. McVerry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Lignelli was an appraiser who provided fraudulently elevated appraisals in support of fraudulent loan applications in connection with two different mortgage fraud schemes.

The first scheme involved Michael Pope, who operated Pope Financial Services, and Tiffany Sprouts, who operated Sprouts Mortgage. Lignelli participated in a bank fraud scheme by preparing fraudulently elevated appraisals for the property located in McMurray, Pennsylvania, which was sold through the conspiracy for approximately $1.2 million.

The second scheme involved a mortgage broker named Michael Staaf, who operated Beaver Financial Services, a mortgage broker company. Lignelli participated in a bank fraud scheme by preparing a fraudulent appraisal for a property located on Perry Highway, North Hills, Pittsburgh.

Judge McVerry scheduled sentencing for September 26, 2014, at 1:30 p.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 90 years in prison, a fine of $3,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based on the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Brendan T. Conway prosecuted the case.

Allison Tussey

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3 responses to Jury Finds Appraiser Guilty of Mortgage Fraud

  1. It appears to me that the feds only act on big deals. The fact that smaller “sins” are overlooked nearly 100% of the time tears at the moral fabric of the business.

  2. Just one? Thousands to go. When I had an appraiser’s license, it was impossible to get work unless you gave the client any value they wanted.

    • Is that a confession that you provided fraudulent appraisal services? Perhaps you should consider turning yourself in.

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