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