Archives For New Jersey

Mark Andreotti, 46, Wyckoff, New Jersey, a former settlement agent, was convicted at trial on charges related to the refinancing of properties in Bergen and Morris Counties, New Jersey.  Andreotti was found guilty on all six counts of an indictment charging him with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, tax evasion, and failure to file tax returns. He was convicted following a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton in Newark federal court. The jury deliberated one and a half hours before returning its verdict.

According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:

In January 2010, Andreotti submitted a loan application to a bank requesting $625,000 to refinance the mortgage on his house in Wyckoff. Andreotti, who owned and operated Metropolitan Title and Abstract (Metropolitan), used Metropolitan as the settlement agent on the transaction. After the bank transferred the $625,000 for the refinance to Metropolitan’s escrow account, Andreotti spent the money on personal expenses instead of paying off the first mortgage on the house.

In April 2011, Andreotti conspired with another individual who worked as a real estate attorney to obtain $480,000 by claiming that the money would be used to refinance the mortgage on the attorney’s house in Montville, New Jersey. After the bank transferred the money for the refinance to Metropolitan’s escrow account, Andreotti kept $110,000 for himself before transferring the remaining funds to the other conspirator.

In 2010, the IRS initiated collection actions against Andreotti for unpaid personal income taxes. Despite numerous liens and levies and having five rental income properties in addition to his primary residence, Andreotti continued to evade his taxes. He also failed to file tax returns for the tax years 2010 and 2011.

The bank fraud counts are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The tax evasion count is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $100,000 fine. The counts of failure to file tax returns are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of one year in prison and a $25,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for January 23, 2018.

Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced the conviction and credited special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Steven Perez in Newark; special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark; special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen in Newark; and investigators with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty verdicts.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shana Chen in Newark and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlie Divine of the Federal Housing and Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General.

Defense counsel: John P. McGovern Esq. and Christopher Dunn Esq., of Newark.

Zaki M. Bey, 39, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 60 months in prison. Bey previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit loan and bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to court documents, Bey conspired with others to prepare and submit fraudulent mortgage applications to banks and lending institutions.  In 2007 and 2008, Bey successfully secured more than $2 million in residential loans on at least thirteen properties located in the Germantown section of Philadelphia and in New Jersey.  Bey and others created fraudulent loan applications on behalf of straw buyers that contained materially false information as to the straw buyers’ income, assets, and intent to occupy the residences.  Bey also furnished fraudulent records such as payroll account documents, paystubs, and financial statements to defraud financial institutions and lenders.  Bey’s company at the time, Natural Home Builders, was able to receive a payout for purported construction expenses ranging from $17,864.26 to $60,000 at the closing of each settlement.  Bey was not completing any construction on these properties, and obtained total settlement proceeds for construction costs of $435,074.26.

In late 2010 and early 2011, Bey filed fraudulent personal income tax returns for tax years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.  Bey filed these tax returns claiming false tax withholding payments and false Forms 1099-OID (“Original Issue Discount”) income for his company, Natural Home Builders.  Bey attempted to receive total tax refunds from the IRS in the amount of $1,141,677.  Bey was only successful in receiving $148,296 from the IRS based on the fraudulent 2009 tax return he submitted.   After assessed a tax deficiency by the IRS, Bey mailed checks to the IRS from a closed bank account in an attempt to repay the fraudulent tax refund.

Beginning in 2010 to 2013, Bey engaged in a wire fraud conspiracy involving the submission of fraudulent auto loan applications.  Bey furnished fraudulent records such as payroll account documents, paystubs and financial statements to defraud automobile dealerships located in Philadelphia and New Jersey.  The false loan applications and fraudulent records caused the automobile dealerships to electronically submit false information to financial institutions and lenders.  Through the use of straw buyers, Bey was able to obtain at least 7 automobiles.

In addition to Bey’s 60 month prison sentence, he will also be required to serve 3 years’ supervised release and pay back $705,528.22 in restitution to multiple financial institutions and the Internal Revenue Service.

The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Louis D. Lappen.  The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.  It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney James Pavlock.

Pierre Chainey, 42, Tabernacle, New Jersey, was sentenced to 54 months in prison for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme that caused $2.7 million in losses.  Chainey previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of money laundering. Judge Hillman imposed the sentence on July 7, 2017, in Camden federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

In November 2005, Chainey established Universal Lending Solutions LLC, a mortgage brokerage company in Northfield, New Jersey, and served as chief executive office of the company until 2008. He was also a loan officer for the company.

From November 2005 through at least January 2008, he conspired with others to profit from the sale and purchase of properties in New Jersey by obtaining mortgage loans for unqualified borrowers using fraudulent loan applications, HUD-1 Settlement Statements and other documents.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Hillman sentenced Chainey to three years of supervised release; restitution will be determined at a later date.

Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced the sentence and credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher, and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel Jason M. Richardson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Rafael Popoteur, 65, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to an information charging him with conspiring to commit bank fraud between 2012 and 2014.  He admitted his role in a scheme to use false 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:

From 2012 through January 2014, Popoteur, Simon Curanaj, and others conspired to fraudulently obtain multiple home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) from banks on a residential property in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. To get the banks to extend lines of credit they would not have otherwise approved, Popoteur, Curanaj, and others transferred ownership of a Ridgefield Park property to Popoteur, who also lived at the property.

Popoteur, Curanaj, and others then applied for three HELOCs from multiple banks using the Ridgefield Park property as collateral. They hid from the lenders the fact that the property was either already subject to senior liens that had not yet been recorded, or that the same property was offered as collateral for a line of credit from another lender. The applications also falsely inflated Popoteur’s income. The equity in the property was far less than the amount of the HELOC loans Popoteur and others applied for.

The victim banks eventually issued loans to Popoteur in excess of $495,000. After the victim banks deposited money into Popoteur’s bank accounts, Popoteur disbursed portions of it to Curanaj and others. In 2014, Popoteur defaulted on all three HELOC loans.

The conspiracy to commit bank fraud count carries 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 Oct. 10, 2017.

The charges against Curanaj are still pending and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced the plea and credited special agents of the U.S. Federal Finance Housing Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Steven Perez; and special agents of the FBI, under the direction Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher of the Newark office, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason S. Gould of the U.S. Attorney’s Criminal Division in Newark and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin DiGregory of the FHFA, Office of the Inspector General.

Defense counsel: Jean Barrett Esq., Montclair

Michael Pampalone, 34, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, pled guilty  to defrauding a Rensselaer, New York, resident of $132,450.

As part of his guilty plea, Pampalone admitted that he stole money that he had promised to hold in escrow for a client seeking a mortgage. After the client sent him two wires totaling $132,450, Pampalone withdrew the money and used it for his own purposes.

Sentencing is scheduled for August 9, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. before United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino. Pampalone faces up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to 3 years of post-imprisonment supervised release. A

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Shelly A. Binkowski, Inspector in Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Boston Division.

This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and New York State Police, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Wayne A. Myers.

Joseph W. Witkowski, 70, former New Jersey lawyer, Flemington, New Jersey, was sentenced to 48 months in prison for participating in a conspiracy that caused lenders to release $40.8 million based on fraudulent mortgage loan applications and laundered the proceeds of the fraud.  Witkowski previously pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez imposed the sentence in Camden federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Witkowski and his conspirators located oceanfront condominiums overbuilt by financially distressed developers in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey; premier real estate in vacation destinations in Georgia and South Carolina; and properties in New Jersey owned by financially distressed homeowners facing foreclosure. They then recruited “straw buyers” – people with good credit scores but lacking the financial resources to qualify for mortgage loans – to purchase those properties.

Witkowski and his conspirators created false documents, including fake W-2 forms, income tax returns, investment statements, and rental agreements, to make the straw buyers appear more creditworthy than they actually were. They also established numerous telephone lines for companies owned by some of the conspirators so that when a lender contacted the telephone number, the conspirators could falsely verify that a straw buyer was employed by the company listed on his or her fraudulent loan application.

Witkowski also caused fraudulent mortgage loan applications in the name of the straw buyers and supporting documents, which attributed to the straw buyers inflated income and assets, to be submitted to mortgage lenders. Once the loans were approved and the mortgage lenders sent the loan proceeds in connection with real estate closings on the properties, Witkowski and his conspirators had some of the funds wired or checks deposited into various accounts that he and his conspirators controlled.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Rodriguez sentenced Witkowski to three years of supervised release and ordered restitution of $13,105570. As part of his plea agreement, he must forfeit $2,412,899, representing the proceeds of the fraud.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced the sentence.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher; and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Diana Carrig of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden.

Defense counsel: Maggie Moy Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Camden

John Leadbeater, 59, Kearny, New Jersey, was sentenced to 60 months in prison for his role in a $13 million mortgage fraud scam that used phony documents and “straw buyers” to make illegal profits on overbuilt condos in Wildwood and Wildwood Crest, New Jersey.  Leadbeater previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Simandle to a superseding indictment charging him with conspiracy to  commit wire fraud.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court: Leadbeater and his conspirators located condominiums overbuilt by financially distressed developers in Wildwood and Wildwood Crest, New Jersey. They then recruited “straw buyers” from New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Arkansas, and California, to purchase those properties. The straw buyers had good credit scores, but lacked the financial resources to qualify for the mortgage loans. The conspirators created false documents, including loan applications that contained fraudulent financial and employment information, to make the straw buyers appear more credit-worthy and induce the lenders to make the loans.

Once the loans were approved, Leadbeater and his conspirators created and signed fraudulent closing documents in order to induce the mortgage lenders to send the loan proceeds in connection with real estate closings on the properties. Once the mortgage lenders sent the loan proceeds, Leadbeater and his conspirators took a portion of the proceeds, having funds wired or checks deposited into various accounts they controlled. They also distributed a portion of the proceeds to the other members of the conspiracy for their respective roles.

Leadbeater admitted to personally participating in fraudulent activity related to nine properties in Wildwood and Wildwood Crest. He admitted causing mortgage lenders to fund $4,711,557 worth of mortgages based on the bogus loan applications and closing documents prepared by him and his conspirators.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Simandle sentenced Leadbeater to five years of supervised release. A restitution hearing has been set for July 28, 2016. U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced the sentence and credited special agents from the FBI’s Atlantic City Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark; and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation in Mays Landing, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen in Newark, for the investigation leading to the sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacqueline M. Carle and Matthew T. Smith of the U.S. Attorney=s Office Criminal Division in Camden.  Defense counsel are Thomas J. Cammarata Esq. and Jeffrey Garrigan Esq., Jersey City

Ian Resnick, 41, Abescon, New Jersey was sentenced to 18 years in prison for his role in a $3 million conspiracy to scam customers by offering phony consulting services to owners of timeshares through the New Jersey-based Vacation Ownership Group LLC.  Resnick was previously convicted in September 2013 of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud. He was convicted following a seven-week trial before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman, who imposed the sentence in Camden, New Jersey, federal court.

According to documents filed in the case and the evidence presented at trial: Continue Reading…

Sung Ho Mo, a/k/a “Douglas Mo,” 53, Totowa, New Jersey, a self-employed loan broker, admitted using bogus documents and simultaneous applications at multiple banks to fraudulently obtain home equity lines of credit, resulting in losses of $1.3 million.  Mo pleaded guilty  before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden to an information charging him with conspiracy to commit bank fraud.  He was previously arrested on August. 4, 2015 and released on bail.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:

Mo was the primary owner and operator of “Douglas Mo Mortgage,” a mortgage brokerage business in New Jersey. From 2005 through January 2014, Mo conspired with others, including a tax preparer, to fraudulently obtain home equity lines of credit and first mortgages. Continue Reading…

Daniel Sheehan, 41, Gloucester City, New Jersey, and John Hoban, 42, Bellmawr, New Jersey, were indicted in connection with a scheme to defraud distressed homeowners seeking help out of more than $400,000, .  The pair is charged with wire fraud conspiracy and eight counts of wire fraud.  Sheehan is additionally charged with 18 wire fraud counts and one count of interstate transport of stolen property.  As a result of the alleged scheme, more than 110 people were defrauded, several of whom lost their homes. Continue Reading…