David Plunkett, 57, Lynn, Massachusetts, was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for creating fraudulent tax returns and submitting fraudulent letters to lenders in a multi-year mortgage fraud scheme.
Plunkett was charged in September 2018 along with co-defendants Joseph Bates III and George Kritopoulos. From 2006 through 2015, Bates, Kritopoulos and Plunkett engaged in a scheme to defraud banks and other financial institutions by causing false information to be submitted to those institutions on behalf of borrowers – people recruited to purchase properties – located primarily in Salem, Massachusetts. The properties were usually multi-family buildings with two-to-four units, which Kritopoulos and Bates then converted into condominiums. Kritopoulos recruited new borrowers to purchase the individual condominium units. Kritopoulos also recruited Plunkett to prepare false tax returns in the names of the buyers to support the fraud scheme. Together, Kritopoulos and Bates created other false documents and provided them to lenders to obtain fraudulent mortgages for financing the purchases.
The false information submitted to lenders included, among other things, representations concerning the borrowers’ employment, income, assets and intent to occupy the property. Specifically, the false employment information included representations that borrowers were employed by entities that were, in fact, shell companies “owned” by Kritopoulos and were used to advance the fraudulent scheme. The employment information also included false representations about the income that the borrowers received from the entities, when the borrowers actually received little or no income from them. Furthermore, the income asserted on the borrowers’ loan applications substantially overstated their true income. The false information also included representations that the recruited borrowers intended to live in the properties that they were purchasing, when they did not intend to do so.
Plunkett assisted the scheme by preparing tax returns for some of the borrowers that contained false and inflated income. Some of those tax returns were submitted to lenders in support of the fraudulent loan applications. Plunkett also signed letters falsely representing that his CPA firm had prepared corporate tax returns for one of the shell entities, when in fact no such returns had ever been prepared or filed.
The borrowers did not have the financial ability to repay the loans, therefore in all but two instances among 21 properties, they defaulted on their loan payments, resulting in foreclosures and losses to the lenders.
Plunkett was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns to time served (approximately one day in prison) and three years of supervised release. Plunkett was also ordered to pay $147,500 in restitution to victims and $64,284 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. In February 2019, Plunkett pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of aiding in the submission of false tax returns.
In October 2022, Kritopoulos was sentenced to four years in prison and two years of supervised release after being convicted by a federal jury of one count of conspiracy, two counts of wire fraud, six counts of bank fraud, one count of aiding the preparation of a false income tax return and one count of obstruction of justice. Kritopoulos was also ordered to pay restitution to lender victims in the amount of $2,238,354 and forfeiture of $700,000. On Jan. 25, 2023, Bates was sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release after previously pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution and two counts of bank fraud. Bates was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,238,354 and forfeiture of $700,000.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeastern Regional Office; and Joleen D. Simpson, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Victor A. Wild, of Rollins’ Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit and Brian M. LaMacchia, of Rollins’ Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit prosecuted the case.