Straw Buyer and Down Payment Fraud Guilty Plea

Rachel Dollar —  November 3, 2015 — Leave a comment

Antonio Pimenta, 47, Neshanic Station, New Jersey, admitted his role in a scheme that used straw buyers and phony loan documents to fraudulently obtain a $400,500 loan on a property in Irvington, New Jersey.

According to documents filed and statements made in court: Pimenta owned and managed Kelmar Construction Co. Kelmar built multiple properties in Irvington, New Jersey. These properties were sold to straw buyers utilizing fraudulent mortgage loans brokered by loan officer, Klary Arcentales, 47, Lyndhurst, New Jersey, and closed by settlement agent Linda Cohen, 57, Orange, New Jersey, who used fraudulent settlement statements to hide the true sources and destinations of the mortgage funds. The straw buyers had no means of paying the mortgages, and many of the properties entered into foreclosure proceedings.

One such transaction took place in September 2007 on a property located at 97 22nd Street, Irvington, New Jersey, which was built by Kelmar. The mortgage loan application contained false and fraudulent information concerning the straw buyer’s income, employment and rental history. The application also falsely represented that the straw buyer intended to reside in the property as his primary residence. The straw buyer also represented to JP Morgan Chase that he would make a down payment of $44,500. Based on the bogus information, JP Morgan Chase agreed to fund a mortgage loan of approximately $400,500.

Pimenta admitted that despite the fact that he never received a down payment, he knowingly signed a settlement statement that falsely indicated that the payment was made. Afterwards, Pimenta and Kelmar received approximately $381,000 from the fraudulent transaction. No payments were ever made to JP Morgan Chase for this mortgage loan.

Pimenta pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark federal court to Count Two of an indictment charging him with bank fraud. The charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for February 16, 2016.

Arcentales and Cohen have both pleaded guilty to related charges and await sentencing.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced the plea and credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel; special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Steven Perez, for the investigation leading to the plea. Fishman also thanked the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Ryan, for its role in the investigation.

The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean M. Farrell and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zach Intrater and Rahul Agarwal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Rachel Dollar

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