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Angelo Louissaint, 42, West Babylon, New York, and Jennifer Johnson, 42, West Babylon, New York, were sentenced after having been convicted of conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud.  The convictions were for their role in a mortgage fraud scheme that victimized Flaherty Funding, a mortgage company located in Rochester, New York. Louissaint was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Johnson was sentenced to five years probation to include six months home detention.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Field, who handled the case, stated that the defendants worked together to prepare false mortgage applications in the names of straw buyers and used fraudulent supporting documents. Louissaint and Johnson worked together with another individual, against whom charges remain pending, to concoct the scheme to obtain mortgage loans from Flaherty Funding using fraudulent information. As a result of the scam, the defendants successfully obtained approximately $1,200,000 in loans, and sought an additional $900,000 for loans that ultimately did not close.

Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that The sentencings are the culmination of efforts by the United States Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Shelly Binkowski; the United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Adam S. Cohen, Special Agent-in-Charge.

Kwame Insaidoo, 61, Bay Shore, Long Island, New York, the former executive director of United Block Association (“UBA”), a New York-based non-profit organization, was sentenced to 48 months in prison and his wife and Roxanne Isaidoo, 63, Bay Shore, Long Island, New York, was sentenced to 30 months in prison, in connection with their embezzlement of over $580,000 from UBA, defrauding their mortgage lender of approximately $200,000, and related crimes.  They were convicted on May 2, 2017, following a one-week jury trial before United States District Judge Valerie E. Caproni, who also imposed today’s sentence.

According to the Indictment, other filings in Manhattan federal court, and the evidence admitted at trial:

In 2011, Kwame Insaidoo and Roxanne Isaidoo engaged in a scheme to defraud their mortgage lender in connection with a modification of their mortgage under the federally-sponsored Home Affordable Modification Program, by underreporting their income and assets, including the hundreds of thousands of dollars they had embezzled from UBA.  This scheme led to a write-off of almost $200,000 from Kwame Insaidoo and Roxanne Isaidoo’s home mortgage.

UBA was a non-profit organization headquartered in New York, New York, that was controlled by Kwame Insaidoo, its former Executive Director.  UBA had contracts with New York City through which it received taxpayer funds, including federal funds, to operate and provide healthy meals and programming to the elderly at four senior centers in Upper Manhattan.

As the jury found, Kwame Insaidoo abused his authority as UBA’s Executive Director to embezzle, with the assistance of his wife, Roxanne Isaidoo, over $580,000 of UBA’s funds for his own benefit and that of his wife and son.  Kwame Insaidoo and Roxanne Isaidoo concealed their embezzlement by laundering the money, in part, through a shell company that they had created.  Kwame Insaidoo and Roxanne Isaidoo used the embezzled funds to pay for personal expenses, including the mortgage for their Long Island residence and the purchase of a Mercedes Benz and a Cadillac.  They also wired more than $300,000 to family members living abroad.    

In an effort to evade scrutiny regarding the embezzled funds, Kwame Insaidoo repeatedly lied to the City, including to its auditors, in order to maintain UBA’s funding and to conceal the funds he and his wife had diverted to their shell company. 

 

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “As a Manhattan jury found, Kwame Insaidoo and Roxanna Insaidoo stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a government-funded non-profit organization dedicated to serving senior citizensThe Insaidoos enriched themselves and their family with taxpayer money that was supposed to support four senior centers in Upper Manhattan.  Now this husband-and-wife crime duo will serve time in prison for those crimes.”  

In imposing sentence, Judge Caproni stated that the “message has to be sent” that “it is not acceptable to steal money from the City that is designed for charitable goals to line your own pockets.

In addition to the prison terms imposed today by Judge Caproni, Kwame Insaidoo and Roxanne Isaidoo were ordered to forfeit a sum of $779,039.62.

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the sentence and praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York City Department of Investigation and the Criminal Investigators of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eli J. Mark and David Zhou are in charge of the prosecution.

The United States filed a civil complaint in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, against Paul Mangione, former Deutsche Bank head of subprime trading. In its complaint, the United States alleges that Mangione engaged in a fraudulent scheme to misrepresent the characteristics of loans backing two residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) that Deutsche Bank sold to investors that resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. The suit was brought pursuant to the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) and seeks an appropriate civil penalty.

As alleged in the complaint, Mangione engaged in a fraudulent scheme to sell ACE 2007-HE4 (HE4) — a $ 1 billion security — and ACE 2007-HE5 (HE5) — a $400 million security — by misleading investors about the quality of the loans backing the securitizations. The complaint further alleges that Mangione also misled investors about the origination practices of Deutsche Bank’s wholly-owned subsidiary, DB Home Lending LLC (DB Home) (f/k/a Chapel Funding LLC), which was the primary originator of loans included in the deals. Mangione approved offering documents for HE4 and HE5 even though he knew they misrepresented key characteristics of the loans, including compliance with lending guidelines, borrowers’ ability to pay, borrowers’ fraud and appraisal accuracy.

The HE4 and HE5 offering documents also falsely represented that DB Home had “developed internal underwriting guidelines that it believe[d] generated quality loans” and that DB Home had instituted a quality control process that “monitor[ed] loan production with the overall goal of improving the quality of loan production,” among numerous other representations designed to instill in investors trust in DB Home’s underwriting processes. As alleged in the complaint, Mangione knew that these statements were false.

The defendant fraudulently induced investors, including pension plans, religious organizations, financial institutions and government-sponsored entities, to name only a few, to invest nearly a billion and a half dollars in HE4 and HE5 RMBS, and caused them to suffer extraordinary losses as a result,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde for the Eastern District of New York. “We will hold accountable those who seek to deceive the investing public through fraud and misrepresentation.”

“The government’s complaint alleges that Mr. Mangione knew that certain of Deutsche Bank’s RMBS contained unsound mortgages that did not meet the credit or appraisal standards that the bank represented,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “By allegedly misleading investors about the riskiness of these securities, Mr. Mangione prioritized his and his employer’s bottom line over principles of honesty and fair dealing. The Department of Justice will continue to pursue those who engage in fraud as a way to conduct business.”

As alleged in today’s filing, this individual knowingly took steps during the lead up to the financial crisis to sell defective mortgage loans while hiding the poor quality of the loans from investors,” said Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Rene Febles for the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of the Inspector General. “This conduct was deliberately fraudulent and resulted in significant losses for the investors. We are committed to working with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York to hold accountable those who engaged in fraud in the secondary market for mortgages.”

In January 2017, the Department of Justice settled a related RMBS matter with Deutsche Bank.

The United States’ case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward K. Newman and Ryan M. Wilson. Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde and Acting Assistant Attorney General Readler thanked the Office of the Inspector General for the Federal Housing Finance Administration for its assistance in conducting the investigation in this matter.

Edward E. Bohm, 39, Nissequogue, New York, Edward J. Sypher, Jr., 40, Scarsdale, New York, and Matthew T. Voss, 42, Northport, New York, all senior executives at Long Island mortgage lender Vanguard Funding, LLC (Vanguard), were the subject of a criminal complaint charging conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud in connection with their obtaining more than $8.9 million of warehouse loans for Vanguard to fund mortgages.  The defendants allegedly misused the loans to pay personal expenses and compensation, as well as to repay earlier fraudulently obtained loans.

According to the complaint unsealed in federal court in Central Islip, New York, between August 2016 and March 2017, Voss, Vanguard’s Chief Operating Officer, Sypher, the Chief Financial Officer, and Bohm, the President of Sales, engaged in a scheme in which they obtained warehouse loans, or short-term loans, for Vanguard by falsely representing that Vanguard would use the proceeds of those loans to fund mortgages or mortgage refinancing for Vanguard’s clients.  Once Vanguard received the loans, however, the defendants used the monies to pay personal expenses and compensation and to pay off loans they had previously obtained with fraudulent loan submissions for improper purposes.  Nearly $9 million of fraudulently obtained, and subsequently misused, loans have been identified so far.

In a recorded conversation with a co-conspirator in 2017, Bohm expressed confidence that they would evade criminal liability because the victims of their fraudulent scheme were financial institutions. “At the end of the day, the s— we did wasn’t to the public,” Bohm stated in part, according to the complaint.

If convicted, the defendants face a statutory maximum of 30 years’ imprisonment for bank fraud conspiracy and 20 years’ imprisonment for wire fraud conspiracy.

The arrests were announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Maria T. Vullo, Superintendent, New York State Department of Financial Services.

As alleged, the defendants – executives of a mortgage lender – defrauded banks into lending them money by stating that the money would fund new mortgages or refinance existing ones,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde.  “We will continue to address dishonesty in the mortgage industry whether the victims are financial institutions, investors, or homeowners, as it ultimately hurts all of us as a community.”

As alleged, the defendants sought short-term loans from financial institutions that served as a repository for lenders,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “They then allegedly took the money, which is typically intended for borrowers looking to purchase a home, and used it for their own personal gain. Today’s charges are proof of our continued determination to root out those whose business practices attempt to harm the financial integrity of banks and financial institutions that facilitate homeownership.”

These defendants, for their own gain, allegedly defrauded the financial institutions that provide funding for individuals to buy homes, and they must be held accountable,” said Financial Services Superintendent Vullo.  “As the regulator and protector of financial services companies in New York, the Department of Financial Services is proud to have assisted the Acting United States Attorney in bringing these defendants to justice.”

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Business and Securities Fraud Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Whitman G.S. Knapp and Elizabeth Losey Macchiaverna are in charge of the prosecution.

 

Jeffrey Halpern, 62, Hewlett, New York, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton federal court to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud. Halpern was the sole proprietor of a purported loan modification consulting company and admitted that he fraudulently billed clients more than $400,000 for services that were never performed,

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

Between 2009 and 2016, Halpern operated JCK Marketing and solicited business from individuals who were seeking home loan modifications on their residential mortgages. Halpern told these individuals that, for a fee, he would negotiate loan modifications on their behalf.

In actuality, Halpern pocketed the funds but performed little or no actual services in connection with the purported loan modifications. Halpern also repeatedly demanded money for “bank fees” from his victims, even though none of the related financial institutions charged fees for loan modifications. During the relevant time period, Halpern defrauded at least 26 victims of over $400,000.

The wire fraud charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. As part of his plea agreement, Halpern must also pay restitution to the victims. Sentencing is scheduled for November 22, 2017.

Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced the guilty plea and credited investigators with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, with the investigation. He also thanked the New York State Department of Financial Services, under the direction of Superintendent Maria T. Vullo; the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Steven Perez; and the Nassau County District Attorney’s office, under the direction of District Attorney Madeline Singas, for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sammi Malek of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark. Defense counsel is Mitchell C. Elman Esq., Port Washington, New York

Gregory Gibbons, 51, Pleasantville, New York, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution, before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathleen A. Lynch and Elizabeth Moellering, who are handling the case, stated that between June 2008 and February 2009, the defendant conspired with others, including Alagi Samba, a realtor, and Daniel Badu, to devise a scheme to obtain eight loans for unqualified borrowers for homes in the Bronx, New York.  As part of the scheme, Gibbons acted as the mortgage broker and altered income and asset documents of the borrowers before they were sent to financial institutions.

For instance, Gibbons altered and created documents to make it appear that defendant Badu qualified for a mortgage on a property at 814 Faile Street in the Bronx. The defendant indicated that Badu was a research ophthalmologist and earned a specific income when in fact, Badu was not a research ophthalmologist nor did he receive the income stated on a loan application. Gibbons knew that these false loan documents were submitted to The Funding Source, a mortgage bank, in order to secure a loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration. Based on that false application and supporting documentation, the loan was approved. The Funding Source then sold the loan on the secondary market to M &T Bank, which wired funds from New York through the State of Ohio to purchase the loan.

The defendant and his co-conspirators arranged for additional fraudulent loans to be approved, including another loan for Badu, and caused wire communications to be transmitted in interstate commerce for those loans. These fraudulent transactions caused losses of approximately $4,800,007 affecting M&T Bank and other financial institutions including SunTrust Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank, and Citibank.

Defendants Badu and Samba have also been convicted and are awaiting sentencing. Charges are pending against co-defendants Julio Rodriguez, Laurence Savedoff, and Tina Brown.

Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. announced the plea which is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Shelly Binkowski, Boston Division, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brad Geary, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Adam S. Cohen.

Sentencing for defendant Gibbons is scheduled for October 19, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. before Judge Geraci.

Lurlyn A. Winchester, 58, New City, New York, a Justice for the Town Court of Monroe, was charged with making false statements in connection with an application for a loan to purchase a residence in Monroe, New York, which satisfied the residency requirement of her position as Town Justice. She was also charged with obstruction of justice for providing law enforcement officers, who questioned her about her mortgage loan, with false documents, including fabricated rent payment receipts. Winchester was arrested at her home in New City, New York, and was presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith in White Plains federal court.

According to the allegations contained in the Complaint:

In or about 1997, Winchester  and her husband purchased a home in New City, New York (the “New City Home”), which they continue to own. On or about October 6, 2013, Winchester, an attorney practicing in New City, was nominated to be the democratic candidate for Town of Monroe Justice. At that time, she provided an address in Monroe, New York (“Monroe Residence-1”), as her residence, and on or about October 7, 2013, she registered to vote in Monroe, New York. Winchester was then elected Town of Monroe Justice on or about November 5, 2013.

On or about October 14, 2014, Hudson United Mortgage, LLC (“Hudson United”), a mortgage broker located in New City, New York, received a letter from Winchesterindicating that she had been elected Town Justice for the Town of Monroe and that she was relocating to Monroe in order to comply with a residency requirement attached to that position. In or about December 2014, the defendant and her husband submitted an application for a residential loan to Hudson United, and indicated that the loan was to be used to purchase a condominium located in Monroe, New York (“Monroe Residence-2”). On both the loan application and a disclosure notice, signed by the defendant and her husband, they asserted that Monroe Residence-2 would be their primary residence.

Winchester also represented to Hudson United that she and her husband were going to rent out their New City Home to a tenant. Specifically, on or about February 6, 2015, Hudson United received a letter from the defendant in which she identified the New City Home as her “current primary residence” and she stated that she and her husband intended to rent the New City Home and they “already had a prospective tenant” who was “anxiously awaiting to take occupancy of the residence.”

In or about March 2015, Winchester learned that the ultimate loan issuer, Plaza Home Mortgage Inc. (“Plaza”), was going to decline to issue the loan due to insufficient income. In response, Winchester again represented that she and her husband were going to rent out the New City Home and indicated they would have rental income of $4,500 a month. Plaza requested copies of a fully executed 12-month lease and a canceled check for a security deposit. Winchester provided a copy of a lease agreement, signed by the defendant, her husband, and a tenant (the “Tenant”). She also submitted a copy of two $4,500 checks for the security deposit and one month’s rent, made out to the defendant, and drawn on the Tenant’s bank account, as well as other documents reflecting that the checks were deposited into Winchester’s bank account. In or about April 2015, Plaza issued the loan.

Contrary to the defendant’s representations, Winchester did not intend to and did not lease the New City Home to Tenant in 2015; instead she fabricated a 2015 lease and caused checks to be issued and deposited to make it falsely appear that Tenant had paid rent and a security deposit. Tenant did not sign a lease in March 2015, never moved in to the New City Home, and Winchester provided the $9,000 that covered the two $4,500 checks purportedly provided by Tenant.

Further, Monroe Residence-2 was not intended to be, and has not been, the primary residence of the defendant and her husband. Interviews with neighbors, cellphone records, and credit card records indicate that Winchester did not move to Monroe. Finally, in a statement to agents, Winchester admitted that: she resided at the New City Home, she had informed Hudson United that she would be renting the New City Home, she submitted rental checks and other documents relating to renting the New City Home, and the Tenant never moved into the New City Home.

With respect to the obstruction charge, during an interview with members of the FBI Task Force relating to Winchester’s statements and submissions in connection with her loan, she provided them with, among other things, purported receipts for rent payments she claimed to have received from the Tenant for rent of the New City Home. The Tenant, however, indicated that he did not know anything about the receipts and never gave Winchester the cash payments supposedly memorialized in them.

Winchester was charged with one count of making false statements to a mortgage lending business, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, as well as falsifying records in a federal investigation, with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of a federal department or agency, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the Complaint.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “As alleged, Lurlyn Winchester, a municipal court judge for the Town of Monroe, lied and provided fake documents to secure a mortgage on a Monroe condominium in an attempt to falsely satisfy the judicial residency requirement. We should expect and demand integrity in our government. This Office is committed to pursuing corruption in all forms and in all three branches of government, including the judiciary. I thank our partners at the FBI for their work in exposing this fraud and holding accountable our public officials.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. stated: “As alleged, Lurlyn Winchester falsely represented her primary residence in order to fulfill requirements for her position as justice for the Town of Monroe. Winchester, who claimed she had relocated her primary residence from New City to Monroe, allegedly remained in her New City home, despite representations to the contrary. She allegedly provided false information to her mortgage company, claiming her New City property was being rented to a prospective tenant, and later lied to federal agents who interviewed her about her claims. If anyone should have respect for the rule of law, it should most certainly be those entrusted to uphold it. Many thanks to our partners in this investigation as we continue to reinforce our commitment to uncover illegal activity on behalf of public officials at every level.”

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI. He also thanked the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Margery B. Feinzig is in charge of the prosecution.

Kwame Insaidoo 60, Bay Shore, Long Island, New York, the former executive director of United Block Association (“UBA”), a New York-based non-profit organization, and his wife Roxanna Insaidoo, 63, Bay Shore, Long Island, New York, were found guilty in Manhattan federal court of embezzlement from a federally funded program, money laundering, and defrauding their mortgage lender. Kwame Insaidoo was also found guilty of defrauding the City of New York in connection with UBA’s contracts to operate senior centers in Upper Manhattan. The jury convicted Kwame and Roxanna Insaidoo on all counts in the superseding indictment following a one-week trial before U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni.

In 2011, Kwame and Roxanna Insaidoo engaged in a scheme to defraud their mortgage lender, in connection with a modification of their mortgage under the federally sponsored Home Affordable Modification Program, by underreporting their income and assets. This scheme led to a write-off of almost $200,000 from Kwame and Roxanna Insaidoo’s home mortgage.

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the verdict and praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York City Department of Investigation and the Criminal Investigators of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eli J. Mark, David Zhou, and Tatiana Martins are in charge of the prosecution.

Joseph Atias, 52, Great Neck, New York, and Sofia Atias, 47, Great Neck, New York were convicted of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and Medicaid fraud by a jury in federal court in Central Islip., New York. The fraud was designed to, and did, defraud Bank of America of over half a million dollars.  The defendants face penalties of up to 35 years’ imprisonment, the forfeiture of $560,000, and restitution of over $700,000.  After the verdicts, Joseph Atias was remanded to custody pending sentencing by United States District Judge Denis R. Hurley.

The defendants were convicted of bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud in connection with the sale of property adjacent to Sacred Heart Academy for $925,000, after the defendants had sold the property in a short sale for $480,000 to discharge their mortgage debt.  In the short sale process, the defendants and a co-conspirator, an attorney who pleaded guilty and testified against the defendants at trial, concealed the offer from Sacred Heart Academy from Bank of America.  In the short sale process, the defendants submitted a fraudulent contract of sale and other documents with false statements to Bank of America, and obtained approval of a short sale, wherein the proceeds from the sale of the property were less than the total amount of the mortgages on the property.  The defendants submitted these documents to Bank of America, falsely representing that there were no funds to pay the mortgages when, in fact, the defendants knew that Sacred Heart Academy, a high school in Hempstead, New York, had offered to buy the property for an amount sufficient to cover the mortgages on the property.  To accomplish the fraudulent short sale scheme, the defendants used a relative as a straw buyer of the property to create the appearance of an arms-length sale.  Shortly after that sale, the defendant’s straw buyer sold the property to Sacred Heart Academy for approximately half a million dollars in profit.

Regarding the Medicaid fraud count conviction, the jury found the defendants guilty of theft of government funds in connection with their receipt of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Medicaid funds from 2009-2015.  The defendants concealed their self-employment from Medicaid, as well as their available cash resources, including trust fund monies, an inheritance and the $465,000 in proceeds from the above bank fraud, in order to continue on Medicaid, which paid the defendants approximately $2,500 per month.

The convictions were announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.

Through a web of lies and false documentation, these defendants stole more than half a million dollars from Bank of America and from Medicaid, which they used to line their own pockets,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde.  “The fine work of the FBI to bring these defendants to account for these crimes sends a clear message to anyone who contemplates engaging in mortgage fraud or Medicaid fraud: Do not even attempt it, because you will be caught and held responsible.”  Ms. Rohde extended her grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the agency responsible for leading the government’s investigation.

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Charles P. Kelly and Burton T. Ryan, Jr. of the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division.

Herzel Meiri, who was indicted on March 16, 2016, on fraud and money laundering charges in connection with a scheme to fraudulently induce distressed homeowners to sell their homes to a company he owned and controlled, was extradited from Ukraine. Meiri had been arrested by Ukrainian authorities on October 27, 2016. He will be arraigned in front of Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis. The case is assigned to United States District Judge Edgardo Ramos. Meiri was the seventh defendant to be indicted in connection with the scheme.

According to the allegations in the Fourth Superseding Indictment, which was unsealed in November 2016, as well as the Complaints previously filed in this action:

Since at least 2013, Meiri and his co-defendants defrauded distressed homeowners throughout the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, New York. Meiri and others falsely represented to the homeowners – some of whom were elderly or in poor health – that they could assist them with a loan modification or similar relief from foreclosure that would allow the homeowners to save their homes. But rather than actually assisting the homeowners, the defendants deceived them into selling their homes to Launch Development LLC (“Launch Development”), a for-profit real estate company owned and controlled by Meiri.

Meiri and others lured victims through Homeowners Assistance Service of New York (“HASNY”), which purported to provide assistance to homeowners who were seeking to avoid foreclosure of their homes. As part of the scheme, Meiri directed employees of Launch Development to solicit owners of distressed properties and invite them to meet with HASNY representatives so that they could learn more about avoiding foreclosure and saving their homes.

When a homeowner arrived at the HASNY office, he or she met with a co-conspirator, who typically advised the homeowner that HASNY could assist him or her with a loan modification. In other cases, the homeowner was advised that a loan modification could not be completed, but that the homeowner could engage in a type of short sale in which the homeowner would sell the property to a third party, Launch Development, and then within approximately 90 days arrange for a relative of the homeowner to repurchase the property from Launch Development. Homeowners were typically advised that they could remain in their homes throughout the entire process. At the closing that followed, a homeowner who had been led to believe that he or she was about to receive a loan modification or transfer the property to a trusted relative was encouraged to sign documents presented by another co-conspirator, which in some cases were blank. Unbeknownst to the homeowners, by signing the documents, they were selling to Launch Development the homes they had hoped to save. Homeowners often were then forced to vacate their homes soon thereafter, and Launch Development re-sold many of the homes, which were purchased at fraudulently deflated prices, for an enormous profit.

In addition, Meiri and a co-conspirator transferred the proceeds of the home sales from Launch Development to other companies Meiri owned and controlled, falsely describing the transfers as, among other things, rent payments. The proceeds were ultimately transferred back to Launch Development or spent on luxury items for Meiri.

Meiri is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, each of which carries a maximum term of 30 years in prison. In addition, Meiri is charged with two counts of money laundering, one of which carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison and one of which carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison.

Meiri will be arraigned in front of Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis. The case is assigned to United States District Judge Edgardo Ramos.

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Christy Goldsmith Romero, Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“SIGTARP”), and Maria T. Vullo, Financial Services Superintendent for the New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”), announced the extradition.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Herzel Meiri allegedly concocted a callous scheme to swindle desperate homeowners out of their homes. As alleged, Meiri lied to his victims, who thought that they were getting the financial help they needed but instead were being tricked into signing over their homes. Thanks to our law enforcement partners – the FBI, SIGTARP, and DFS – Meiri is now in U.S. custody and will have to answer for his alleged crimes.”

Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “When desperate homeowners fall prey to false relief schemes, their vulnerabilities are often exploited by those who seek to benefit from their misfortune. As alleged, Meiri’s behavior caused serious damage to struggling families who unknowingly funded his extravagant scheme. The FBI continues to support partnerships within the financial industry and law enforcement as we work together to combat this serious crime.”

Special Inspector General for TARP Christy Goldsmith Romero said: “Herzel Meiri is charged with preying on struggling homeowners trying to avoid foreclosure. Meiri and his co-conspirators allegedly promised victims mortgage modifications when in fact they were swindling them out of their homes. SIGTARP thanks U.S. Attorney Bharara, Superintendent Vullo, and the FBI for their commitment to protecting taxpayers from TARP-related crime.”

DFS Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo said: “These allegations paint the portrait of a con artist who cold-heartedly preyed on financially distressed homeowners – some of whom are among our most vulnerable – to satisfy his selfish greed. The Department of Financial Services is proud to have worked with our fellow law enforcement partners in helping to bring this defendant to justice.”

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding work of the FBI, SIGTARP, and DFS for their investigative efforts and ongoing support and assistance with the case.

The prosecution of this case is being overseen by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jaimie L. Nawaday and Andrew Thomas are in charge of the case.