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John F. Iacono (also known under the alias Vito Yodice), 46, and Shpresa Gjekovic (also known under the aliases Hope Gjekovic, Hope Iacono, Hope Yodice, and Shpresa Hadzovic), 32 , were sentenced today for defrauding banks throughout New York State and laundering those criminal proceeds to further their scheme.

The co defendants were convicted for mortgage fraud, money laundering and scheme to defraud after a joint investigation by the Office of the Attorney General and the New York State Police revealed that the couple utilized shell companies, forged cashier’s checks, and provided fake bank statements, W2s, paystubs, and tax returns in order to solicit over $1.3 million in loans from multiple upstate New York banks.

According to the indictment and statements made by the prosecutor in court, between April 2016 and March 2017, Iacono and Gjekovic applied for mortgages, a construction loan, personal lines of credit, personal loans, a commercial loan, a debt consolidation loan, and a Home Equity Line of Credit with fraudulent documentation that overstated their income, assets, and source of funds. The couple also created fake entities, including but not limited to JF Iacono, LLC and Iacono, LLC, and purported to have worked for them for years. In reality, these companies were created just days prior to their submissions of applications for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bank funds.

The investigation also revealed that Iacono and Gjekovic supplied over $125,000 in counterfeit cashier’s checks to financial institutions, law firms, title companies, and the sellers of a Schoharie County, New York property in order to secure financing and establish residency in the area. The couple allegedly intended to turn the Schoharie County property into a swingers club, but instead rented it out as a hunting cabin while pretending to raise money for children in need. Utilizing online postings, including on Facebook and Airbnb, they advertised the rental property.

The defendants also created a false personal financial statement showing net worth in excess of $1.1 million, with cash on hand of $400,000, while their actual account balances were in the negative. The balances on these statements were grossly inflated, as the couple never had more than a few thousand dollars in the accounts – the vast majority of which was from other loans. To support their claims, Iacono and Gjekovic also supplied fake bank statements showing counterfeit assets.

In addition, Iacono and Gjekovic concealed outstanding judgments against them totaling in excess of $1.4 million from the financial institutions from which they tried to secure loans. Moreover, the couple laundered the fraudulently-obtained loan proceeds to fund real estate transactions, utilizing at least five financial institutions during the course of the year-long scheme. In total, the couple stole over $460,000 from three financial institutions, and attempted to steal over $860,000 in additional proceeds from five financial institutions.

In December 2018, both defendants were arrested on a 19-count indictment charging Residential Mortgage Fraud in the Second Degree, Grand Larceny in the Second and Third Degrees, Money Laundering in the Third Degree, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, among other charges.

On March 29, 2019, Iacono and Gjekovic pleaded guilty before Schoharie County Court Judge George R. Bartlett, III to Residential Mortgage Fraud in the Second Degree (a class C felony), Money Laundering in the Third Degree (a class D felony), and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a class E felony). Iacono and Gjekovic’s pleas resolve additional alleged crimes of money laundering, grand larceny, forgery, and identity theft for which the defendants could have been charged in Albany, Delaware, Greene, Kings, Otsego, Queens, and Rensselaer Counties.

Attorney General Letitia James and State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett made the announcement.

Iacono and Gjekovic falsified document after document in order to pad their own pockets,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Let this serve as a warning to all of those who try to carry out such deliberate schemes: There is no place in this state for individuals who try to cash in at the expense of hardworking New Yorkers. I thank the State Police for their bringing accountability and justice to this elaborate and deceitful plot.”

This couple knowingly defrauded financial institutions and businesses, and preyed on the public’s philanthropy, all to fill their pockets and satisfy their greed,” said New York State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett. “This sentencing brings justice and should remind those thinking of carrying out these types of schemes, that you will be held accountable. Thank you to the Attorney General’s Office, our State Police Financial Crimes Unit and other law enforcement partners for their hard work in exposing this plot.”

The case is being prosecuted as part of Attorney General James’ Combatting Upstate Financial Frauds and Schemes (“CUFFS”) Initiative, led by Assistant Attorney General Philip V. Apruzzese of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. The CUFFS Initiative was created to assist local law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices in the investigation and prosecution of complex financial crimes and money laundering cases such as this one.

Attorney General James thanks the New York State Police Financial Crimes Unit and State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations, as well as Schoharie County District Attorney Susan J. Mallery for their valuable assistance on this investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Philip V. Apruzzese, with the assistance of Legal Support Analysts Kira M. Russom, Caitlin Carmody and Samantha Wintner and Supervising Analyst Paul Strocko. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph D’Arrigo. The Criminal Division is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado.

The OAG investigation was conducted by Investigator Mark J. Terra, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Mark Spencer and Deputy Bureau Chief Antoine Karam. The Investigations Bureau is led by First Deputy Chief Investigator John Reidy.

 

Robert Morgan, Frank Giacobbe, Todd Morgan, and Michael Tremiti, have been charged today in a 114-count superseding indictment charging them with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud for their roles in a half billion dollar mortgage fraud scheme.

The defendants each face various additional charges such as wire and bank fraud, and money laundering. Todd Morgan and Robert Morgan are also charged with wire fraud conspiracy to defraud insurance companies. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine in the amount of double the loss caused by the crimes, which is currently estimated to exceed $25,000,000.

During the course of the conspiracy:

  • Robert Morgan was the managing member and chief executive officer of Morgan Management. In addition to his role with Morgan Management, he controlled and managed owned a substantial portfolio of real estate holdings;
    • Frank Giacobbe owned and operated Aurora Capital Advisors, identified himself as the Principal, and employed others to assist him in brokering, and attempting to broker real estate loans;
    • Todd Morgan was employed at Morgan Management, and worked as a Project Manager at the company; and
    • Michael Tremiti was employed at Morgan Management, and worked as Director of Finance for the company.

According to the superseding indictment, between 2007 and June 2017, the defendants conspired with Kevin Morgan, Patrick Ogiony, Scott Cresswell, and others to fraudulently obtain moneys, funds, credits, assets, securities, and other property from financial institutions such as Arbor Commercial Mortgage, LLC and Berkadia Commercial Mortgage, LLC, and government sponsored enterprises, including Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), and the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae).

The defendants provided false information to financial institutions and government sponsored enterprises overstating the incomes of properties owned by Morgan Management or certain principals of Morgan Management. The false information induced financial institutions to issue loans: (1) for greater values than the financial institutions would have authorized had they been provided with truthful information; and (2) that the financial institutions would not have issued at the time of issuance had they been provided with truthful information. These properties included:

  The Preserve at Autumn Ridge, Watertown, New York;
  The Eden Square Apartments, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania;
  The Rochester Village Apartments at Park Place, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania;
  The Reserve at Southpointe, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania;
  7100 South Shore Drive Apartments, Chicago, Illinois;
  The Avon Commons Apartments, Avon, New York;
  The Morgan Bay Apartments, Houston, Texas;
  Brookwood on the Green, Syracuse, New York;
  The Creek Hill Apartments, Rochester, New York;
  Hickory Hollow, Rochester, New York;
  The Knollwood Manor Apartments, Rochester, New York;
  The Links at Centerpointe, Canandaigua, New York;
  The Nineteen North Apartments, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania;
  The Overlook at Golden Hills, Lexington, South Carolina;
  The Penbrooke Meadows Apartments, Rochester, New York;
  The Trails of North Hills Apartments, Raleigh, North Carolina;
  The Rivers Pointe Apartments, Syracuse, New York;
  The Union Square Apartments, Rochester, New York;
  The View at MacKenzi, York, Pennsylvania; and
  The Villas of Victor, Rochester, New York.

To facilitate the conspiracy:

  • Morgan Management provided property management, accounting, and financial reporting services for the properties owned by limited liability companies controlled by defendant Robert Morgan.
    • The defendants conspired to manipulate income and expenses for properties to meet debt service coverage ratios (“DSCRs”) required by lending institutions. The manipulation included, among other things, removing expenses from information reported to lenders and keeping two sets of books for at least 70 properties, with one set of books containing true and accurate figures and a second set of books containing manipulated figures to be provided to lenders in connection with servicing and re-financing loans.
    • The defendants conspired to present lending institutions with false and fraudulent inflated construction contracts and invoices that falsely reported to the lending institution that the contractor constructing a property was being paid more than the contractor was actually being paid.
    • The defendants provided false information to financial institutions and government sponsored enterprises that overstated net incomes of properties and thereby induced financial institutions to: (1) issue loans (a) for greater values than financial institutions would have authorized had they been provided with truthful information; and (b) that the financial institutions would not have issued at the time of issuance had they been provided with truthful information; and (2) forgo contractual rights that would have inured to the financial institutions had the defendants and Morgan Management presented accurate financial information to the financial institutions.
    • The defendants employed various mechanisms to mislead inspectors, appraisers, financial institutions and government sponsored enterprises with respect to the occupancy of properties.
    • The defendants falsely inflated the amounts owed on properties, by among other things, (1) providing false documentation of obligations purportedly associated with the properties, (2) misrepresenting the actual purchase prices of properties by providing false contracts and contract prices, and (3), as set forth above, presenting false construction contracts and invoices.

In the wire fraud conspiracy to defraud insurers, Todd Morgan and Robert Morgan are accused of conspiring with Kevin Morgan and Scott Cresswell to present false and inflated contracts and invoices for repairs to insurers after damages to properties in Robert Morgan’s real estate portfolio. These properties include the Summerwood Apartments, Merrillville, Indiana; the Eden Square Apartments, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania; and at thirty-four properties in the Rochester, New York area after a March 2017 windstorm in that area.

The defendants are also charged with money laundering conspiracy for engaging in monetary transactions in excess of $10,000 using the proceeds of wire fraud and bank fraud.

The total loss sustained by financial institutions and government sponsored enterprises throughout the mortgage fraud scheme is currently estimated to exceed $25,000,000. The loss resulting from the insurance fraud scheme is currently estimated at approximately $3,000,000.

The defendants made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer and were released on conditions.
U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. made the announcement.

The charges announced today reflect this Office’s commitment to ensuring that those who do business with the mortgage, banking, and insurance industries act with honesty and integrity,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “The scope of the dishonesty and deceit alleged here—both in a geographic sense as well as in terms of the dollar value of the mortgages and properties involved—was expansive. This type of fraud strikes at the very heart of those industries, and I commend the FBI and the FHFA-OIG for the significant resources they devoted to this investigation in order to reveal the full scope of the illegal conduct alleged in this superseding indictment.

Today’s charges allege Robert Morgan-and the men he surrounded himself with in business-worked hard with a desire to creatively subvert the integrity of the financial industry,” said FBI Buffalo Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert. “In response, we worked just as hard and creatively to put a stop to it. We hope the indictment returned in this case helps to educate and protect the tens of thousands of investors who own mortgage-backed securities.”

Richard Parker, Acting Deputy Inspector General for Investigations for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG), said, “the financing of multifamily loans is a significant segment of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s portfolio.  As these charges demonstrate, FHFA-OIG will work with our partners in law enforcement to investigate and hold accountable those who seek to victimize the entities regulated by FHFA.”

Defendants Kevin Morgan and Patrick Ogiony were previously convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and defendant Scott Cresswell was previously convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for their roles in the multi-million dollar fraud scheme. All three defendants are awaiting sentencing.

The superseding indictment is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector

General, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Manchak, Northeast Region.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

 

Ramjit Jaikaran, a.k.a. A.J. Jaikaran, 55, South Ozone Park, Queens; Colin Hill, 41, Jamaica, Queens; Kaso Rampersad, 51,  Orlando, Florida, and Justin Codrington, 29,  New Rochelle, New York were arraigned today on an indictment in which they are variously charged with grand larceny, money laundering, identity theft, and other charges for allegedly conspiring to sell a vacant Canarsie, Brooklyn house to the victims, using forged documents to conceal the fact that the homeowner was deceased, and then stealing the $276,000 that the couple paid for the property.

According to the investigation, in July 2017, a married Guyanese couple who wanted to invest in Brooklyn real estate were allegedly fraudulently induced by the defendants to pay $276,000 to purchase a residential property located on East 94th Street, Canarsie, Brooklyn, which the couple believed the defendants were authorized to sell. The property was actually owned by Ruth Adelman, who died in 1993 without a will.

It is alleged that defendant Jaikaran showed the house to the couple and claimed that it was for sale. Defendant Rampersad allegedly pretended to represent Adelman’s heir – falsely claiming that she had a son who inherited the property and was willing to sell it. Ms. Adelman did not have any children, and the person identified by the defendants as her “son” was in fact the victim of identity theft.

It is alleged that defendant Hill agreed to act as the couple’s attorney at the closing for the property on July 31, 2017. Hill is not an attorney and is not admitted to practice law in New York State.

While at the closing, it is alleged, Hill falsely claimed that Adelman’s “son” had earlier signed the contract of sale, the deed and other documents, transferring ownership of the property to the couple’s family corporation. Hill even presented them with a fraudulent death certificate for Adelman which identified her supposed son, and a fraudulent birth certificate for the “son.”

To complete the sale, the couple paid the defendants $250,000, using two bank checks for $150,000 and $125,000, along with $1,000 in cash for Hill’s “legal” fee. According to the indictment, defendant Codrington cashed the check for $150,000 using an account controlled by his company; other funds were disbursed to a company controlled by Jaikaran’s wife.

In November 2017, the couple’s family corporation was sued by Valley Capital Partners LLC, which alleged that it purchased the property from Adelman’s true heirs. One of the victims confronted defendants Jaikaran and Rampersad, in separate conversations, stating that he believed that he may have been defrauded, and, it is alleged, both defendants urged him not to report it to law enforcement.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made the announcement.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants allegedly engaged in an elaborate scam to steal the savings of an innocent couple. I am committed to protecting homeowners and home purchasers in Brooklyn and will now seek to hold the defendants accountable for this alleged scheme. As property values continue to rise in Brooklyn, protecting residents from fraudulent real estate schemes is a top priority.”

The District Attorney identified the defendants as Defendants Jaikaran and Hill were arraigned before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Joanne Quinones on April 16, 2019; defendants Rampersad and Codrington were arraigned before Justice Danny Chun on April 17, 2019 and yesterday, May 21, 2019, respectively. The defendants are variously charged, in the 20-count indictment with one count of conspiracy, one count of second-degree grand larceny, two counts of first-degree identity theft, seven counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, one count of fourth-degree conspiracy, and five counts of first-degree falsifying business records. Hill is charged with one count of practicing and appearing as an attorney at law without being admitted and registered, and Codrington is charged with one count of criminal possession of stolen property and two counts of second-degree money laundering. They face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count. Codrington is being held on $30,000 bail. The other defendants were released without bail. All of the defendants were ordered to return to court on June 26, 2019.

The District Attorney thanked the New York City Sheriff’s Office for its assistance in the investigation.

The case was investigated by Detective Investigators assigned to the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau. Detective Sergeant Teresa Russo of the New York City Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, provided valuable assistance in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Kurtz, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, Chief of the Real Estate Fraud Unit, Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief.

Craig Hecht, 51, Mount Sinai, New York, has been arraigned today on an indictment in which he is charged with grand larceny and money laundering for allegedly stealing a vacant brownstone worth over $1 million in a deed fraud scheme targeting an 80-year-old Bedford-Stuyvesant homeowner.

According to the indictment, Hecht and a codefendant (who remains unapprehended) allegedly stole the deed to 260 Clifton Place, a two-story Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York, brownstone owned by an 80-year-old woman. The victim and her family lived in the residence for over three decades. In 2010, the family vacated the property after a fire made the building uninhabitable.

Hecht allegedly formed an entity called Ernestina Thomas LLC that he filed with the New York State Department of State on April 20, 2015. Ten days later, the codefendant allegedly opened a bank account called Ernestina Thomas LLC (ET). The victim did not know about or consent to any of this.

On September 18, 2015, according to the investigation, Hecht set up a closing where 260 Clifton Place was transferred to an entity called TDA Development. A deed with the victim’s forged signature, which transferred the property from her to TDA, was filed and recorded with the City Register. The bulk of the proceeds of the sale went into an ET account which the codefendant controlled.

Shortly thereafter, Hecht offered 260 Clifton Place to a prospective buyer. It is alleged that on November 5, 2015, the codefendant opened a bank account for TDA and the following day the property was transferred from TDA to the buyer at a closing for $850,000, with most of the proceeds of that sale going into the codefendant’s TDA account. From the funds allegedly stolen out of the two closings, the codefendant wired $190,000 to an account he had in Athens, Greece, withdrew another $120,000 in a series of cash withdrawals and transferred over $250,000 to an account held by Hecht’s wife.

The victim was notified of the alleged theft when a neighbor called to tell her that someone was working on the house and introduced himself as the new property owner. She then notified the District Attorney’s Office.

The defendant was arraigned yesterday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with two counts of second-degree grand larceny and two counts of second-degree money laundering. The defendant was ordered held on $150,000 bond or $75,000 cash bail and to return to court on August 14, 2019. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made the announcement.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly thought he could take advantage of an elderly homeowner’s absence to steal her house and sell it before she or anyone else noticed. Brooklyn’s robust real estate market continues to be an attractive target for theft and fraud. I remain vigilant in my commitment to protecting homeowners and encourage them to protect themselves by registering with the Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS) so that they are automatically informed of changes made to documents associated with their property.”

The case was investigated by Detective Investigators assigned to the KCDA Investigations Bureau. Supervising Financial Investigator Vincent Jones assisted in the investigation, as did Investigative Analyst Megan Carroll, both of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Linda Hristova, of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, with assistance from Senior Assistant District Attorney Patrick Cappock, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, Chief of the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit and Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

Laurence Savedoff, Esq., 44, New City, New York, who was convicted of misprision of a felony, was sentenced today for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme.

Between 2008 and 2009, the defendant represented The Funding Source (“TFS”), a mortgage bank, as the settlement attorney. The defendant’s law office was used to execute the closings for the eight real estate transactions for properties located in Bronx, New York, which involved efforts by five other individuals fraudulently to obtain mortgages that were insured by FHA on behalf of unqualified borrowers. For all eight transactions, the defendant caused the signing of the HUD-1 settlement statement and FHA Addendum to the HUD-1 knowing that the information therein was false.

Although he did not know the full extent of the scheme, the defendant became aware that others were using him to help defraud financial institutions. The defendant failed to notify authorities, including federal authorities, of these other individuals’ use of fraud to obtain funds from TFS. Furthermore, the defendant took affirmative steps to conceal the fraud by signing the HUD-1 Settlement Statement and FHA Addendum, or by having his paralegal sign them. Those documents were later forwarded by TFS, which he knew would be sent to financial institutions, including M&T Bank located in the Western District of New York. One duty of the defendant in his role as settlement attorney was to certify that the disbursements written on the HUD-1 accurately reflected the disbursements in the transactions. The HUD-1 and other financial documents were sent to financial institutions to show that the borrowers met FHA’s requirement of providing a 3-3.5% down payment. The defendant was aware that the borrowers in all eight transactions did not provide that down payment. Nevertheless, the defendant, or his paralegal at this direction, certified on the HUD-1 and in the FHA Addendum that the disbursements listed therein were accurate.  As a result of the aforementioned facts, financial institutions, including M&T Bank, purchased the fraudulently originated loans from TFS. https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdny/pr/attorney-sentenced-his-role-mortgage-fraud-scheme

The total amount of the mortgage loans for these eight transactions was $4,800,007.

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. made the announcement.

The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service under the direction of Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge, Boston Division, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brad Geary; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gary Loeffert.  Additionally, the New York State Department of Financial Services assisted with the investigation.

Constantine Giannakos, 51, Hicksville, New York, a disbarred attorney, pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing $40,000 from a Hicksville couple selling their home.

In early 2017, a Hicksville homeowner and her ex-husband hired the defendant to represent them in the sale of their home. The complainants and their home purchasers entered a sales contract on February 4, 2017.

At the time of the contract signing, the buyers’ attorney provided a $40,000 down payment check made out to ‘Constantine Giannakos, as attorney’ that was deposited into Giannakos’ escrow account and held there until the closing.

Between February 4, 2017 and the scheduled closing date of September 27, 2017, the defendant and one of the complainants met at public locations including a Dunkin’ Donuts on Newbridge Road in Hicksville. The defendant claimed he had an office in Syosset, New York but in fact, did not.

Following the closing on September 27, 2017 the defendant was supposed to remit the $40,000 down payment to his clients but never did so. The complainants made several subsequent requests for the money via phone and text messages but never received the money.

The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office received the case on October 24, 2017, after receiving a complaint from the homeowners. A review of the escrow account showed Giannakos spent the $40,000 at Home Depot, on credit card payments, department stores, mortgage payments, and unrelated business expenses.

Giannakos pled guilty to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a D felony) before Judge Robert Bogle. If the defendant provides $40,000 restitution at the time of sentence on May 10, 2019 he is expected to be sentenced to five years’ probation; however, if the defendant does not pay restitution, he is expected to be sentenced to one to three years in prison.

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas made the announcement.

Instead of faithfully representing his clients, this defendant stole $40,000 from them and spent it at the Home Depot and on personal credit card payments,” DA Singas said. “When an attorney abuses their client’s trust and steals from them, my office will hold them accountable for their crimes.”

Giannakos was disbarred for another matter on August 21, 2012.

Since 2012, the NCDA has prosecuted more than 20 attorneys for misconduct.

If you believe you may have been a victim of an unscrupulous attorney, please call the NCDA’s Tip Line at 516-571-7755. Anyone interested in hiring an attorney is encouraged to check that person’s standing and registration with the Office of Court Administration.

Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Contreras of DA Singas’ Financial Crimes Bureau is handling this case. Eric Franz, Esq. represents the defendant.

 

Patrick Ogiony, 35, Buffalo, New York, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Between March 2011 and June 2017, the defendant conspired with co-defendants Frank Giacobbe, Kevin Morgan, Todd Morgan, and others, to defraud financial institutions, including Evans Bank, N.A.; UBS Securities LLC; M&T Bank; Arbor Commercial Mortgage LLC; SteepRock Capital, LLC; and Berkadia Commercial Mortgage, LLC.

During the course of the conspiracy, Ogiony was employed by Aurora Capital Advisors, LLC, a mortgage brokerage company owned and operated by Frank Giacobbe. Through Aurora, the defendant brokered mortgage loans on behalf of Morgan Management, LLC, a real estate management company that managed over 100 multi-family properties. Kevin Morgan was employed as a Vice President at Morgan Management, and Todd Morgan was employed as a Project Manager.

Ogiony, his co-defendants, and others provided false information to financial institutions and government sponsored enterprises overstating the incomes of properties owned by Morgan Management or certain principals of Morgan Management. The false information induced financial institutions to issue loans: (1) for greater values than the financial institutions would have authorized had they been provided with truthful information; and (2) that the financial institutions would not have issued at the time of issuance had they been provided with truthful information. Ogiony admitted that these properties included:

• The Preserve at Autumn Ridge, Watertown, NY;
• The Eden Square Apartments, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania;
• The Rochester Village Apartments at Park Place, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania;
• The Reserve at Southpointe, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania;
• 7100 South Shore Drive Apartments, Chicago, Illinois;
• The Avon Commons Apartments, Avon, NY;
• The Morgan Bay Apartments, Houston, Texas;
• Brookwood on the Green, Syracuse, NY;
• The Creek Hill Apartments, Rochester, NY;
• Hickory Hollow, Rochester, NY;
• The Knollwood Manor Apartments, Rochester, NY;
• The Links at Centerpointe, Canandaigua, NY;
• The Nineteen North Apartments, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania;
• The Overlook at Golden Hills, Lexington, South Carolina;
• The Penbrooke Meadows Apartments, Rochester, NY;
• The Trails of North Hills Apartments, Raleigh, North Carolina;
• The Rivers Pointe Apartments, Syracuse, NY;
• The Union Square Apartments, Rochester, NY;
• The View at MacKenzi, York, Pennsylvania; and
• The Villas of Victor, Rochester, NY.

In addition, the defendant, his co-defendants, and others employed various mechanisms to mislead financial institutions regarding the properties’ occupancy. Ogiony specifically:

• provided false rent rolls to lenders and appraisers on a variety of dates, overstating either the number of renters in a property, the rent paid by occupants;
• provided or conspired to provide false and inflated income statements for the properties; and
• worked with others to deceive inspectors into believing that unoccupied apartments were, in fact, occupied.

In one such instance, Ogiony and his co-defendants provided false information to Berkadia Commercial Mortgage, LLC, in connection with The Rochester Village Apartments at Park Place, a multi-family residential apartment owned by Morgan Management principals. The information included falsely inflated income from storage unit rentals, false reports of rental income, and falsely reporting apartment units as occupied before certificates of occupancy were obtained for those units.

Also, Ogiony, his co-defendants, and others made misrepresentations and engaged in conduct designed to conceal from the lending financial institutions that they obtained cash from the loan proceeds, which was not used to purchase or maintain the premises. Ogiony, his co-defendants, and others did so by, at times, providing false documentation of obligations purportedly associated with the properties, and by misrepresenting the actual purchase prices of properties.

Defendant Kevin Morgan was previously convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and is awaiting sentencing. Charges remain pending against Frank Giacobbe and Todd Morgan. The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Manchak.

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. made the announcement.

Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.

Winston Gregory Hall, aka “Sage El,” 37, East Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York, who absconded during his trial, was sentenced today to three to nine years in state prison. He was convicted by a jury of grand larceny and other charges for stealing a house owned by his 84-year-old next-door neighbor by forging a deed and other documents that transferred ownership of the property to a trust in his name.

According to the evidence, on April 16, 2015, the defendant created the Winston Gregory Hall Express Trust, of which he was the trustee. One week later, on April 23, 2015, a deed was executed by the victim, the owner of 390 East 49th Street, Brooklyn, New York, transferring ownership of the property to the defendant’s trust. Further, on May 8, 2015, the deed and related tax documents, also forged, were filed at the New York City Register’s Office. On May 18, 2015, the deed was recorded with the New York City Department of Finance, at which time the estimated market value of the property was $445,000.

The victim stated that she did not know the defendant and never intended to transfer ownership of her home to the defendant.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made the announcement.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, between April and May of 2015, the defendant perpetrated a fraud to steal the title to 390 East 49th Street in Brooklyn, a three-family home owned by his next-door neighbor, an 84-year-old woman who lived with a family member in New Jersey.

The defendant was sentenced to an indeterminate term of three to nine years in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. The defendant was convicted of second-degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. The defendant absconded after the jury trial began and was convicted in absentia on October 23, 2018. He was picked up in Brooklyn by police two months after absconding.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant twice showed a disregard for the rule of law, first by stealing his neighbor’s house and then absconding during his trial. He’s now been held accountable. This case is part of my continuing commitment to ensuring justice for Brooklyn homeowners who are all too often the target of unscrupulous individuals.”

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Frank Dudis and Senior Assistant District Attorney Ellen Koenig, of the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, Unit Chief, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the Investigations Division.

Paul Manafort, 69, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, was indicted today for a yearlong residential mortgage fraud scheme.

Manafort and others falsified business records to illegally obtain millions of dollars. Manafort is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment filed on March 7, 2019, with Residential Mortgage Fraud in the First Degree, Attempted Residential Mortgage Fraud in the First Degree, Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree.

A copy of the indictment is available here.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. made the announcement.

No one is beyond the law in New York,” said District Attorney Vance. “Following an investigation commenced by our Office in March 2017, a Manhattan grand jury has charged Mr. Manafort with state criminal violations which strike at the heart of New York’s sovereign interests, including the integrity of our residential mortgage market. I thank our prosecutors for their meticulous investigation, which has yielded serious criminal charges for which the defendant has not been held accountable.”

The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant D.A. and Senior Investigative Counsel Peirce Moser and Assistant D.A.s Sean Pippen, James Graham, Lisa White, and Kevin Wilson under the supervision of Assistant D.A. Christopher Conroy (Chief of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau) and Executive Assistant D.A. Michael Sachs (Chief of the Investigation Division). Trial Preparation Assistants Caroline Adelson, Sophie Hoblit, and Alexander Petrillo, as well as Investigator Daniel Schoenfeld and Forensic Accountant Investigator Jeffrey Leap, assisted with the investigation.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court.

Edward E. Bohm, 41, Nissequogue, New York, President of Sales and an undisclosed owner of Long Island mortgage lender Vanguard Funding, LLC (Vanguard), pleaded guilty today to conspiring to commit wire fraud and bank fraud in connection with the illegal diversion of more than $8.9 million of warehouse loans that Vanguard had obtained to fund mortgages.

According to court filings and the facts presented at the plea proceedings, between August 2015 and March 2017, Bohm engaged in a scheme in which he and others obtained warehouse, or short-term, loans for Vanguard by falsely representing that Vanguard would use the proceeds of those loans to fund mortgages or provide mortgage refinancing for Vanguard’s clients.  Once Vanguard received the loans, however, Bohm, along with others diverted the monies to pay personal expenses and compensation, and to pay off loans they had previously obtained with fraudulent loan submissions for improper purposes.  http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Edward+E.+Bohm

The guilty plea was entered before United States District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein.  When sentenced, Bohm faces up to 30 years in prison, as well as restitution, criminal forfeiture and a fine.

Earlier, in 2018, Vanguard’s Chief Operating Officer and the Chief Financial Officer entered guilty pleas in connection with this fraud and were sentenced to terms of incarceration.

Richard P. Donoghue, 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, and Linda A. Lacewell, Acting Superintendent, New York State Department of Financial Services, announced the guilty plea.

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 handling the prosecution with assistance from Assistant United States Attorney Laura Mantell of the Office’s Asset Forfeiture Section.