Judge Tosses Paul Manafort’s Mortgage Fraud Case In New York Lawyers for the former Trump campaign chairman argued the charges should be dismissed on double jeopardy grounds.
Saoud “Sam” Rihan, 59, Bronx, New York, admitted today his participation in a conspiracy to carry out a $3.5 million scheme to use bogus information and simultaneous loan applications at multiple banks to fraudulently obtain home equity lines of credit, a practice known as “shotgunning,”.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
Rihan was a business partner of Simon Curanaj, 65, Yonkers, New York. From 2012 through January 2014, Rihan, Curanaj, and others conspired to fraudulently obtain multiple home equity lines of credit (HELOC) from banks on residential properties in New Jersey and New York.
In 2013, Rihan and Curanaj executed a deed to transfer ownership of a Bronx, New York property to people identified in the complaint as “Individual 1” and “Individual 2,” neither of whom lived at the property. Rihan offered Individuals 1 and 2 $10,000 cash payments for acting as straw borrowers but never paid them. Rihan and Curanaj then applied for three HELOCs valued at $750,000 from multiple banks in the name of Individual 2.
Rihan and Curanaj hid the fact that the same Bronx, New York property was pledged as collateral in all three applications. The applications also fraudulently inflated Individual 2’s income. In addition, at the time the applications were made, the value of the Bronx property, which was encumbered by a mortgage, was far less than the amount of the HELOC loans that Rihan and the real estate broker applied for.
The victim banks eventually issued loans to Individual 2 in excess of $370,000. After the victim banks funded the HELOCs and deposited money into Individual 2’s bank accounts, Individual 2 disbursed almost all of the funds to Rihan, Curanaj, and others. In 2014, Individual 2 defaulted on all the HELOC loans.
The overall scheme resulted in over $3.5 million in losses to the victim banks.
Rihan faces a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for March 25, 2020.
Curanaj previously pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme and is awaiting sentencing.
Rihan pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez to an indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito made the announcement.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert Manchak in Newark; and special agents of the FBI, under the direction Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason S. Gould of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin DiGregory of the FHFA-OIG.
Defense Counsel: Jeffrey Garrigan Esq., Jersey City, New Jersey
Carol Michaelson, 56, Dawsonville, Georgia, a formerly licensed real estate agent, pleaded guilty today to defrauding her clients by faking property sales, forging contracts and deeds, and then pocketing her victims’ money.
According to the charges and other information presented in court, Michaelson operated a scheme to defraud her clients while acting as a real estate agent. She pretended to arrange real estate purchases for her clients and received funds from them to complete the purchases, but then diverted the funds to her own personal use. In furtherance of the scheme, she prepared fraudulent real estate contracts listing false owners, forged signatures on the contracts and other agreements, and filed fraudulent warranty deeds with forged signatures with the county clerk’s office. Michaelson also sent emails to her victims impersonating closing attorneys, loan officers, and other financial and real estate personnel, to trick the victims into believing that the real estate transactions were legitimate and progressing.
Michaelson defrauded her victims in a variety of ways. In some cases, she falsely informed victims that certain properties were for sale by their owners, when in fact they were not; and the true owners were unaware of Michaelson’s false representations. In another instance, after Michaelson deceived a victim into believing that she had purchased properties for the victim, Michaelson created false tenant identities to deceive the victim into further believing that she had arranged for the properties to be rented. Michaelson then sent rent checks to the victim, pretending to be the false tenants. The victim did not know that he was not the true owner of the properties. In yet another instance, after facilitating a real sale to a victim, Michaelson transferred ownership back to the bank, without the victim’s knowledge, and filed a fraudulent warranty deed with forged signatures in the county clerk’s office.
Michaelson stole over $1 million from her victims through her real estate scheme.
Michaelson was previously charged with forgery, theft by conversion, and false statements in Dawson County for defrauding real estate clients. As a result, she lost her real estate license in 2014. Even after surrendering her license, Michaelson continued to act as an unlicensed real estate agent and engage in fraudulent real estate transactions. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
“This defendant stole her clients’ hard-earned money by pretending to purchase properties for them, while pocketing their funds for her own personal use,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “She then tried to cover her tracks with fake sales agreements and forged deeds. Michaelson is a repeat offender, having previously lost her real estate license for defrauding clients.”
“This case demonstrates the commitment the Secret Service and our law enforcement partners have in aggressively pursuing those who defraud innocent victims,” said Steven R. Baisel, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service, Atlanta Field Office. “This guilty plea should serve as a reminder to other like-minded individuals that we will protect our economic system and arrest criminals who violate public trust for personal gain.”
“We are grateful to all the involved criminal justice agencies who worked so diligently to help close these cases. It is our continued desire that justice will be served in hopes of deterring these types of crimes,” said Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson.
The U.S. Secret Service, the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office, and the Enotah Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office are investigating this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen H. McClain, Chief of the Complex Frauds Section, is prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.
Latrese Gevon Breaux, 47, was sentenced today for helping run a sophisticated real estate fraud scheme that resulted in the theft of more than $1.4 million from 2014 to 2016.
From July 2014 through September 2016, Angela Cotton, assisted by her co-defendants, used fictitious escrow and title companies that she had created to deceive a lending company into believing it was funding two legitimate real estate transactions.
The group stole the identities of nine people in order to facilitate the fictitious real estate sales. Along with the fake escrow and title companies, the defendants created a fictitious place of employment for one supposed homebuyer under whose name the two loans were approved, the prosecutor said.
To convince the lender of the legitimacy of the transactions and the entities involved, the defendants created fraudulent websites, emails and phone networks along with fake employment documentation and bank account statements from a non-existent financial institution for the borrower.
The lender transferred funds to a bank account it believed to be owned by a legitimate title company but was owned by one of the defendants.
The properties for which the defendants received loans were located in Los Angeles, California and La Cañada Flintridge, California and had not been listed for sale, the prosecutor added. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Latrese+Gevon+Breaux
Breaux, pleaded no contest on February 14, 2019 to one felony count each of grand theft and identity theft, and she admitted an allegation of fraud and embezzlement. She was sentenced to 212 days in county jail. She also is required to complete 200 hours community service and was placed on formal probation for five years under the terms of a plea agreement.
In October, Angela Grace Cotton, 47, was sentenced to 12 years in state prison after pleading no contest to three counts of identity theft, two counts of grand theft and one count each of forgery and money laundering, all felonies.
Denaysha Coleman, 27, was sentenced to three years and eight months in state prison after pleading no contest to one felony count each of grand theft and money laundering.
Lawrence Edward Cotton, 53, was sentenced to two years in state prison after pleading no contest to one felony count each of grand theft and money laundering.
All four defendants are required to pay more than $1.4 million in restitution under the terms of a negotiated plea agreement.
Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office made the announcement.
Deputy District Attorney Daniel Kinney of the White Collar Crime Division’s Real Estate Fraud Section prosecuted case BA472018.
The case was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Fraud and Cyber Crimes Bureau.
Marek Harrison, 56, Plant City, Florida has pleaded guilty to bank fraud.
According to the plea agreement, between September 2007 and December 2008, Harrison created and executed a mortgage fraud scheme involving Saratoga Resort Villas, a condominium conversion of a former hotel located in Kissimmee, Florida. Harrison’s scheme to defraud financial institutions involved kickbacks of mortgage proceeds to buyers and co-conspirators, as well as misrepresentations regarding the source of down payment funds for the transactions. None of the incentives and kickbacks were disclosed to the mortgage lenders. Harrison also recruited otherwise unqualified buyers, and provided down payment money for the buyers. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Marek+Harrison
Harrison faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.
Mordechai Boaziz, 68, Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Jonathan Marmol,41, Odessa, Florida have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make false statements to financial institutions.
According to their plea agreements, beginning around the summer of 2006 and continuing through August 2008, Boaziz and Marmol conspired with others to execute a scheme to influence the credit decisions of financial institutions in connection with the sale of condominium units at The Preserve at Temple Terrace, a 392-unit condominium complex. Boaziz was converting The Preserve from an apartment complex into a condominium complex and hired Marmol to market the units.
In order to recruit and entice otherwise unqualified buyers to purchase units at The Preserve, the conspirators offered to pay the prospective buyers’ down payments (“cash-to-close”). The conspirators then intentionally concealed from the financial institutions the cash-to-close payments made on behalf of the buyers.
In particular, the HUD-1 Settlement Statements submitted to the financial institutions falsely stated that the buyers brought their own cash-to-close funds to purchase the condominium units, which influenced the financial institutions’ mortgage loan approval decisions. In reality, Boaziz funded the buyers’ cash-to-close and routed the payments through Marmol and others. As a result of the conspiracy, the financial institutions that financed the condominium unit purchases at The Preserve sustained a total loss of approximately $5 million.
Each faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency–Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor and Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.
Jaime L. Mulvihill, 40, the principal and co-founder of a North Andover mortgage short sale assistance company, pleaded guilty today in connection with defrauding mortgage lenders and investors out of nearly $500,000 in proceeds from about 90 short sale transactions.
Mulvihill was charged on November 8, 2019, with co-conspirator Gabriel T. Tavarez.
Together the defendants founded and operated Loss Mitigation Services, LLC. The charges arise out of the defendants’ scheme to steal undisclosed and improper fees from mortgage lenders in connection with short sales of homes. A short sale occurs where the mortgage debt on the home is greater than the sale price, and the mortgage lender agrees to take a loss on the transaction.
Loss Mitigation Services, purportedly acting on behalf of underwater homeowners, negotiated with mortgage lenders for approval of short sales in lieu of foreclosure. Mortgage lenders typically forbid short sale negotiators, such as Loss Mitigation Services, from receiving any proceeds of a short sale.
According to the court documents, from 2014 to 2017, Mulvihill and, allegedly, Tavarez, directly or through their employees, falsely claimed to homeowners, real estate agents and closing attorneys that mortgage lenders had agreed to pay Loss Mitigation Services fees known as “seller paid closing costs” or “seller concessions” from the proceeds of the short sales. In reality, the mortgage lenders had never approved Loss Mitigation Services to receive those fees. When the short sales closed, at the instruction of Mulvihill, or others working with him and Tavarez, settlement agents paid Loss Mitigation Services the fees, which typically were 3% of the short sale price above and beyond any fees to real estate agents, closing attorneys and others involved in the transaction. To deceive mortgage lenders about the true nature of the fees, Mulvihill or Tavarez filed, or caused others to file, false short sale transaction documents with mortgage lenders, including altered settlement statements and fabricated contracts and mortgage loan preapproval letters. Mulvihill and, allegedly, Tavarez, fabricated the transaction documents, or caused them to be fabricated, in order to justify the additional fees and conceal that they were being paid to Loss Mitigation Services.
The defendants defrauded the Federal National Mortgage Association, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mulvihill pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud before U.S. Senior District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel who scheduled sentencing for February 25, 2020.
The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Robert Manchak, Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency; Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Regional Office; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara Miron Bloom and Brian M. LaMacchia of Lelling’s Office are prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Omar Anabo, 57, Vallejo, California has been sentenced to three years in prison for conspiracy to make false statements on loan applications and ordered to pay $379,068 in restitution to victims of the conspiracy.
According to court documents, between Oct. 2004 and May 2007, Anabo and co‑conspirators Sergio Roman Barrientos, 66, and Zalathiel Aguila, 46, operated Capital Access LLC in Vallejo, a company that preyed on homeowners nearing foreclosure. The defendants convinced homeowners to sign over the title to their homes to Capital Access and then spent any equity those homeowners still had, which was then used for operational expenses of the scheme and personal expenses of Anabo and his co-conspirators. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Omar+Anabo
The defendants also used straw buyers to obtain home loans under false pretenses and defraud federally insured financial institutions out of millions of dollars. Vulnerable homeowners across California lost their homes and savings as a result of the scheme, and lenders lost an estimated $10.47 million from the fraud.
Barrientos was sentenced on Nov. 2, 2018, to 14 years in prison for his role in the scheme. Aguila was sentenced on July 26, 2019, to four years in prison.
U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott made the announcement.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew M. Yelovich and Christina McCall prosecuted the case.
Paul Mangione, a former Deutsche Bank executive, has reached agreement, with the United States to settle a civil action filed in September 2017 in which the United States sought civil penalties for Mangione’s conduct in connection with Deutsche Bank’s marketing and sale of two residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) in 2007.
The complaint in the action, United States v. Paul Mangione, alleged that Mangione, a former Managing Director and head of subprime trading at Deutsche Bank, engaged in a scheme to defraud investors in two Deutsche Bank RMBS, ACE 2007-HE4 and ACE 2007-HE5, by misrepresenting the characteristics of the loans backing the two securities and misleading potential investors about the loan origination practices of Deutsche Bank’s wholly-owned subsidiary, DB Home Lending LLC (f/k/a Chapel Funding, LLC), which originated a number of the loans backing the two RMBS. The complaint stated claims for relief under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA), based on mail fraud and wire fraud.
The agreement provides for payment of $500,000 in civil penalties in exchange for dismissal of the complaint.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the settlement.
“This Office’s settlement with a bank executive in connection with RMBS fraud reflects our commitment to holding individuals accountable for their role in corporate fraud,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. Mr. Donoghue thanked the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of the Inspector General for its assistance in conducting the investigation in this matter.
The settlement agreement does not constitute an admission by Mangione of any of the facts or of liability or wrongdoing by Mangione, and there has been no trial or adjudication or judicial finding of any issue of fact or law.
The government’s case was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Edward Newman.
To report RMBS fraud, go to: http://www.stopfraud.gov/rmbs.html.
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-CV-5305 (NMG/RL)
George Bussanich Sr., 60, of Park Ridge, New Jersey and George Bussanich Jr., 39, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, a father and son, were sentenced today to 27 months in prison and eight months of home detention, respectively, for their roles in a scheme to use straw buyers and short sales on properties to defraud mortgage lenders out of hundreds of thousands of dollars and to avoid paying taxes on the proceeds of the scheme.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Between 2009 and 2012, Bussanich Sr. and Bussanich Jr. conspired to defraud mortgage lenders through the sham short sales of two properties, located on Jefferson Avenue, Emerson, New Jersey, and Lillian Street, Park Ridge, New Jersey.
Bussanich Sr. controlled various purported medical clinics and surgical centers in New Jersey. He recruited his business partner and an employee from a sleep clinic in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, to pose as legitimate, unrelated buyers of the properties. In order to conceal his involvement, Bussanich Sr. used a business entity he controlled to fund each short sale transaction and the subsequent repurchase of those properties. Bussanich Jr., the owner of record of both properties, negotiated the short sales with the lenders using materially false information that misrepresented the circumstances of the short sales, the relationships of the parties, and the source of funding for the transactions.
Approximately two years after the fraudulent short sales, Bussanich Sr. bought the properties back from the straw purchasers using money that he owed his business partner from an earlier venture.
Bussanich Sr. and Bussanich Jr. also failed to disclose on their tax returns income that they received from the purported medical clinics and surgical centers. Bussanich Sr. and Bussanich Jr. used those funds to purchase high-end luxury vehicles and to purchase official bank checks to fund the fraudulent short sales.
Bussanich Sr., was sentenced to 27 months in prison. He previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to a superseding information charging him with one count of bank fraud conspiracy and one count of tax evasion. Bussanich Jr., was sentenced to eight months of home detention. He previously pleaded guilty to tax evasion. Judge Cecchi imposed both sentences today in Newark federal court.
In addition to the prison terms, Judge Cecchi sentenced Bussanich Sr. to five years of supervised release and Bussanich Jr. to three years of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito made the announcement.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, and special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencings.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ari B. Fontecchio of the Office’s Economic Crimes Unit, and Nicholas P. Grippo, Attorney in Charge of the Trenton Office.
Defense counsel: Stacy Biancamano Esq., Jersey City, New Jersey