Kenneth Sweetman, 34, Nutley, New Jersey, was sentenced to 24 months in prison for his role in a massive mortgage fraud scheme involving multiple properties in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Sweetman previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
From March 2011 through July 2012, Sweetman, Carmine Fusco, 47, East Hanover, New Jersey, and others conspired to obtain mortgage loans through fraudulent means. For their roles in the scheme, Sweetman and Fusco formed shell limited liability companies with names similar to licensed title companies. They then opened bank accounts in the shell companies’ names to conceal their identity and control the receipt and distribution of fraudulently obtained mortgage loan proceeds. Sweetman and Fusco also conducted real estate closings even though they were neither licensed attorneys nor title agents. In addition, Sweetman, Fusco and other conspirators submitted false and fraudulent loan applications, supporting documents and closing documents to mortgage lenders. Among other things, these documents included and reflected fraudulent gift loans, false appraisals and documents that misrepresented the owner of properties and the intended disposition of loan proceeds.
Using these methods, Sweetman, Fusco, and others conducted 16 fraudulent real estate transactions, including 11 Elizabeth, New Jersey properties, and obtained more than $5 million in illegitimate proceeds.
In addition to the prison terms, Judge Wigenton ordered Sweetman to serve three years of supervised release and pay $2,233,131.55 in restitution.
Fusco previously pleaded guilty before Judge Wigenton to a separate information charging him with conspiring to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution. He was sentenced on July 13, 2015 to 27 months in prison and ordered to pay $2,233,131.55 in restitution.
U .S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman credited law enforcement agents of the FBI Newark Mortgage Fraud Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel; postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates; special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi; special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Steven Perez; special agents of the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), under the direction of Special Inspector General Christy Romero; special agents of IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Esther Suarez, for their roles in the investigation leading to today’s plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lakshmi Srinivasan Herman and Andrew Kogan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark, as well as Barbara Ward, Acting Chief of the office’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.
Sweetman was represented by Thomas R. Ashley Esq., Newark, New Jersey and Fusco was represented by Vincent C. Scoca Esq., Union City, New Jersey