Archives For Connecticut

Urmila Sri Thakur, also known as Urmila Buddhu-Thakur and Indro Buddhu-Thakur, 72, Wethersfield, Connecticut, pleaded guilty in New Haven federal court to a money laundering offense stemming from a fraudulent debt elimination scheme.

According to court documents and statements made in court, from 2009 to June 2012, Thakur, her former husband, Deowraj “Deo” Buddhu and their daughter, Sunita Buddhu, sold a debt elimination “program” to vulnerable individuals through various businesses, including Paradise Consulting Service, Hema, Inc., and Secured Redemption. In exchange for substantial fees, Deo Buddhu told victims about a little-known government fund that could be used to pay off their mortgages and other debts. In fact, no such fund exists. Buddhu instructed his victims to stop making payments on their mortgages, credit cards and other debts, and to stop paying their property taxes. He also provided his victims with fictitious promissory notes, which he called “bonds,” as well as other frivolous documentation, and advised his victims to use them to pay their debts.

On June 12, 2012, the day after Deo Buddhu’s arrest, Thakur withdrew $75,000 from a certificate of deposit account that contained funds from the scheme. She also obtained several cashier’s checks, including one for $50,000 made payable to Thakur, which she thereafter negotiated using accounts in the name of SDK SYS Solutions and TRK Consulting Services.

Thakur pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years. She is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford on November 20, 2017.

As part of her plea, Thakur has agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $335,072, which is the amount attributable to the underlying fraudulent debt elimination scheme.

Thakur is released on a $250,000 bond pending sentencing.

Deo Buddhu and Sunita Buddhu were previously convicted in Hartford federal court.

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced the plea. The matter is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John T. Pierpont, Jr. and Liam Brennan.

Thomas M. Murtha, 61, attorney, Newtown, Connecticut, and Birmingham, Michigan, was indicted by a grand jury and charged with four counts of wire fraud.  Murtha previously operated a law practice in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

As alleged in the indictment, between approximately November 2011 and April 2017, Murtha fraudulently obtained and converted hundreds of thousands of dollars from his victims, including clients of his law practice, family members and friends.  Murtha falsely represented to client-victims that he had safeguarded and disbursed the proceeds from legal representations when, in fact, he had used their money for his own benefit, including making payments to other victims.  In furtherance of the fraud, Murtha used false and forged documents, including at least one mortgage and a trust document.

It is alleged that Murtha used some of the stolen funds to purchase a $725,000 house in Michigan, a 2.11 carat diamond engagement ring, and other items.

If convicted, Murtha faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on each count of the indictment.

The indictment seeks the forfeiture of the Michigan house and the engagement ring, as well as a money judgment of at least $1,991,628.83, which constitutes proceeds of the alleged fraud scheme.

Murtha was arrested on a criminal complaint on April 5, 2017, and is released on a $10,000 bond.  His arraignment is not yet scheduled.

In September 2016, Murtha resigned from the bar after three grievance complaints were filed against him.

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced the indictment and noted that the investigation is ongoing.  Anyone with information that may be helpful to the investigation, or those who believe they have been victimized by this alleged scheme, are encouraged to contact Detective Robert McKiernan at (203) 382-6660.

The matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Greenwich Police Department.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Laraia and David Huang.

Bradford Barneys, 51, Odenton, Maryland, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to 30 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring with Timothy W. Burke in a long-running fraud scheme that targeted distressed homeowners throughout Connecticut. Barneys was an attorney licensed to practice in Connecticut and has an office in Bridgeport.

According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately 2010 and November 2015, Timothy W. Burke, formerly of Easton, engaged in a scheme to defraud individuals, mortgage lenders and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by falsely representing to homeowners who were in, or facing, foreclosure on their homes that he would purchase their homes and pay off their mortgages. The distressed homeowners agreed to sign various documents that Burke presented to them on the understanding that, by signing the documents, they would be able to walk away from their homes without the burdens of their mortgage or other costs associated with home ownership. Burke also told homeowners that the process of negotiating with the lenders can take time and that, in the meantime, to ignore any notices regarding foreclosure. After he gained control of these houses, Burke rented out the properties to tenants by advertising the properties on craigslist.com and other means and falsely representing to tenants that Burke owned the property.

Burke or one of his agents then collected rent from tenants, and Burke used the funds for his own benefit. He also failed to negotiate with the homeowners’ mortgage lender or pay expenses associated with the home, including the homeowner’s mortgages and property taxes, and he failed to pay any rental income he was collecting to the homeowners. Many of the properties Burke purportedly purchased were ultimately foreclosed upon by the mortgage lender.

Burke undertook extensive efforts to disguise his true identity, and hide his criminal past, from his victims through the use of multiple aliases and business entities, and to conceal the sources of and expenditures from his criminal proceeds.

Between approximately 2011 to at least 2014, Barneys participated in dozens of meetings with Burke and with homeowners at Barneys’ law offices in Bridgeport. At the meetings, Burke represented to homeowners that he would purchase their properties and presented to the homeowners quitclaim deeds, management agreements, indemnification agreements, and third party authorizations.

Barneys was paid more than $72,000 in fees and other monies for his participation in the fraud.

At some point after BARNEYS began representing Burke in these meetings with homeowners, BARNEYS knew that Burke had no intention of buying the properties and paying the outstanding mortgages on the properties. Nevertheless, BARNEYS continued to participate in these meetings and represented that these transactions were legitimate. When questioned by homeowners about the status of their sales, BARNEYS would assure them that their sales to Burke or one of his companies were progressing as Burke promised. BARNEYS also knew that, once Burke obtained the properties from the homeowners, he would rent them out to tenants.

BARNEYS also represented Burke and his companies in eviction proceedings against tenants.

The investigation further revealed that BARNEYS engaged in separate fraud scheme similar to the scheme that Burke engineered. BARNEYS assisted two Maryland residents in purchasing a commercial property located on Boston Avenue in Bridgeport. BARNEYS then acted as a purported landlord for the property, executed long-term lease agreements with at least two tenants, and collected tens of thousands of dollars of rent without the actual owners’ knowledge or authorization and kept the funds for his own use.

On February 21, 2017, BARNEYS pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire a fraud.

BARNEYS’ law license was temporarily suspended by state authorities after he pleaded guilty, with additional proceedings scheduled to determine whether further discipline is warranted. Judge Shea ordered BARNEYS not to apply for reinstatement of his law license, and not to engage in any business related to real estate, while he is on supervised release.

On January 24, 2017, Burke pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of tax evasion. On April 28, 2017, he was sentenced to 108 months of imprisonment.

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced the sentence. The matter was investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, with the critical assistance of the Middletown, Plainville, Easton and Coventry Police Departments, the Connecticut State Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David T. Huang and Sarah P. Karwan.

Timothy W. Burke, also known as “Bill Burke,” “William Burke,” “Kerry Saunders,” “Pat Riley,” “Jim Caldwell,” “Jim Saunders,” “Tom Morrisey,” “Jimmy,” “Phil Burke,” “Phil,” “Burt,” “James Burke,” and “M. Soler,” 65, formerly of Easton, Connecticut, was sentencedby U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to 108 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for defrauding distressed homeowners, and tax evasion.

According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately 2010 and November 2015, Burke engaged in a scheme to defraud individuals, mortgage lenders and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by falsely representing to homeowners who were in, or facing, foreclosure on their homes that he would purchase their homes and pay off their mortgages. The distressed homeowners agreed to sign various documents, including quitclaim deeds, indemnification agreements, management agreements and third party authorization letters, which Burke presented to them on the understanding that, by signing the documents, they would be able to walk away from their homes without the burdens of their mortgage or other costs associated with home ownership. Burke also told homeowners that the process of negotiating with the lenders can take time and that, in the meantime, to ignore any notices regarding foreclosure. After he gained control of these houses, Burke rented out the properties to tenants by advertising the properties on craigslist.com and other means and falsely representing to tenants that Burke owned the property.

Burke or one of his agents then collected rent from tenants, in person, and Burke used the funds for his own benefit. Burke failed to negotiate with the homeowners’ mortgage lender or pay expenses associated with the home, including the homeowner’s mortgages and property taxes, and he failed to pay any rental income he was collecting to the homeowners. Many of the properties Burke purportedly purchased were ultimately foreclosed upon by the mortgage lender.

Burke undertook extensive efforts to disguise his true identity, and hide his criminal past, from his victims through the use of multiple aliases and business entities, and to conceal the sources of and expenditures from his criminal proceeds. Burke has been associated with multiple entities, including Quality Asset Management Services, LLC; Birmingham Investments, LLC; the Birmingham Group of Companies; Saunders Associates; New Haven Investments; Realty Partners Group; Preston Associates II; Landlord Maintenance Services, LLC; Turnkey Construction Services LLC; The Complete Handyman, LLC; and Woodbridge Associates.

Dozens of distressed homeowners, property renters and mortgage lenders were victimized during this scheme. Judge Shea will determine the amount that Burke will be ordered to pay in restitution after further court proceedings.

In addition, between 1994 and 2012, Burke evaded paying approximately $403,726 in federal taxes. He now owes the Internal Revenue Service more than $1 million in back taxes, interest and penalties.

Burke has been detained since his arrest on November 19, 2015. On January 24, 2017, he pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of tax evasion.

In 2002, Burke was indicted by a federal grand jury in New Jersey on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, and equity skimming. Burke subsequently pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit both equity skimming and mail fraud, and he was sentenced to 60 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Burke was released from federal custody in approximately August 2007 and began his federal supervised release at that time. One of the special conditions of Burke’s supervised release was that he refrain from employment in the real estate business or mortgage industry. Based on his motion for early termination of his supervised release, the New Jersey federal court terminated his supervised release approximately one year early in August 2009.

Bradford Barneys, a Bridgeport-based attorney who assisted Burke in this scheme, previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. In pleading guilty, Barneys admitted that participated in numerous meetings with Burke and homeowners during which Burke represented to homeowners that he would purchase their properties. Barneys represented that these were legitimate transactions ever though he knew that Burke had no intention of buying the properties and paying the outstanding mortgages on the properties, and that Burke was renting the properties to tenants. Barneys also represented Burke and his companies in eviction proceedings against tenants.

Barneys awaits sentencing.

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced the sentence. This matter has been investigated by Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with the critical assistance of the Middletown, Plainville, Easton and Coventry Police Departments, the Connecticut State Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David T. Huang and Sarah P. Karwan.

Jessie C. Litvak, 42, Boca Raton, Florida, was sentenced to 24 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for engaging in fraudulent residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) trades. Litvak was also ordered to pay a $2 million fine.

On January 27, 2017, a jury found Litvak guilty of one count of securities fraud. According to the evidence introduced during the trial, in response to the 2008 financial collapse, the U.S. Department of Treasury introduced the Legacy Securities Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP), and used billions of dollars of bailout money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to restart the trading markets for many troubled securities, including certain kinds of RMBS. The program created nine PPIP funds, and more than 100 firms applied to manage the funds.

Litvak was a senior trader and managing director at Jefferies & Co, Inc. (“Jefferies”), a global securities and investment banking firm headquartered in New York. Jefferies also had a trading floor in Stamford, Connecticut, where Litvak and other members of its Mortgage and Asset-Backed Securities trading group worked.

The jury found that Litvak engaged in a scheme to defraud. As a broker-dealer, only Litvak – not the bond seller or buyer – knew the selling and asking prices of the parties. Litvak exploited this information by misrepresenting to his PPIP fund victim the price Jefferies paid for a RMBS bond in order to increase Jefferies’ profit on the trade.

Litvak has been released on bond since his arrest on January 28, 2013.

On March 7, 2014, Litvak was convicted after trial of 10 counts of securities fraud, one count of TARP fraud and three counts of making false statements to the government. Chief Judge Hall subsequently sentenced him to 24 months of imprisonment and a fine of $1.7 million. Litvak appealed his conviction and, on December 8, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the judgment of conviction as to the TARP fraud and making false statement charges, and remanded the matter for a new trial on the securities fraud charges.

The investigation of this matter revealed that members of Jefferies’ management in the fixed income division became aware that Jefferies employees were making misrepresentations to customers and did nothing to stop it. Jefferies has cooperated with the federal criminal investigation and paid a total penalty of $25 million as part of a non-prosecution agreement with the government. The penalty included up to $11 million in restitution to victims and up to a $4,200,402 penalty to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Jefferies also addressed deficiencies in the compliance and ethics practices and policies of its Mortgage and Asset-Backed Securities Trading group. These measures included Jefferies’ agreement to retain an Independent Compliance Consultant to conduct a review of Jefferies’ policies and procedures for detecting and preventing fraud in connection with the purchase or sale of RMBS.

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Christy Goldsmith Romero, Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), and Patricia M. Ferrick, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, made the announcement. The sentence was imposed by Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven, Connecticut.

This sentence sends an unequivocal message that fraud in the residential mortgage backed securities trading market will be met with serious punishment,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “Jesse Litvak took advantage of his victims through his repeated and brazen lies, and as the Court correctly found, Litvak’s lies led to more than $6 million in unearned profits for his employer. Simply put, Litvak lied to investors to cheat them and make more money for himself. This has been a demanding and lengthy prosecution. I thank our prosecutors and the SIGTARP and FBI agents for their tireless professionalism throughout this case. Our criminal investigations of individuals and institutions involved in fraudulent RMBS trading activities remain active and ongoing.”

Today former Jefferies trader Jesse Litvak was sentenced to federal prison for lying to customers about the prices of residential mortgage backed securities to criminally enrich his firm’s profit and his bonus based on the profit,” said Christy Goldsmith Romero, Special Inspector General for TARP. “This fraudulent pursuit of profit victimized customers including a fund trading with taxpayer dollars – part of a TARP program that unlocked frozen credit markets during the crisis. Despite making more than $15 million in four years, Litvak was motivated by greed to lie in 76 trades with 35 victims. Now Litvak has faced justice for his crimes. Since his arrest by SIGTARP special agents, broker dealers have changed their sale practices to prevent this type of fraud. SIGTARP commends U.S. Attorney Daly and prosecutors Jonathan Francis, Heather Cherry and William Nardini and for fighting crime in the residential mortgage backed securities market.”

The prison term imposed today serves as another example that justice prevails over greed, deceit and criminal behavior,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Ferrick.

This matter was investigated by SIGTARP and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Francis, Heather Cherry and William Nardini.

Urmila Sri Thakur, also known as Urmila Buddhu-Thakur and Indro Buddhu-Thakur, 72, Wethersfield, Connecticut was charged in a nine-count grand jury indictment with conspiracy, mail fraud and money laundering offenses related to a fraudulent debt elimination scheme.

According to court documents, from 2009 to June 2012, Thakur, her former husband, Deowraj “Deo” Buddhu and their daughter, Sunita Buddhu, sold a debt elimination “program” to vulnerable individuals through various businesses, including Paradise Consulting Service, Hema, Inc., and Secured Redemption. In exchange for substantial fees, Deo Buddhu told victims about a little-known government fund that could be used to pay off their mortgages and other debts. In fact, no such fund exists. Buddhu instructed his victims to stop making payments on their mortgages, credit cards and other debts, and to stop paying their property taxes. He also provided his victims with fictitious promissory notes, which he called “bonds,” as well as other frivolous documentation, and advised his victims to use them to pay their debts.

The indictment alleges that Thakur participated in the scheme by signing documents provided to victims as a witness, taking money from victims in exchange for their participation in the purported program, and managing payroll operations for the various businesses used for the purpose of selling and attempting to sell the program to the victims.

The indictment further alleges that, on June 12, 2012, the day after Deo Buddhu’s arrest, Thakur withdrew $75,000 from a certificate of deposit account that contained funds from the scheme. Thakur also obtained several cashier’s checks, including one for $50,000 made payable to Thakur, which she thereafter negotiated using accounts in the name of SDK SYS Solutions and TRK Consulting Services.

The indictment was returned on February 15, 2017. Thakur appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez in Hartford, Connecticut, entered a plea of not guilty to the charges, and was released on a $250,000 bond.

The indictment charges Thakur with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, one count of mail fraud and seven counts of money laundering. If convicted, she faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years for the conspiracy count, 20 years for the mail fraud count and 10 years on each count of money laundering.

Deo Buddhu and Sunita Buddhu were previously convicted in Hartford federal court.

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut announced the indictment. The matter is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John T. Pierpont, Jr. and Liam Brennan.

Jason Calabrese, 44, Watertown, Connecticut was sentenced to six months of imprisonment, followed by three months of home confinement and two years of supervised release, for his involvement in a series of fraudulent mortgage loan applications involving a straw borrower. Calabrese also was ordered to pay a $3,000 fine and $400,585 in restitution.

According to court documents and statements made in court, in November 2005, Calabrese ’s co-conspirator, Thomas Provenzano, obtained a $923,200 loan to purchase a lakefront home located at 27 Palmer Road, Morris, Connecticut, for more than $1.1 million, despite lacking the income to pay off the mortgage. The 27 Palmer Road property was owned by an entity controlled by Ryan Geddes, another co-conspirator. Continue Reading…

Anika N. Greene, 42, Bronx, New York, was convicted by a federal jury on charges of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, access device fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft.

Green was charged in a superseding indicted on July 15, 2014. According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Greene and three other individuals, Jeffrey Washington, Alice Howard, and Catya J. Craig, burglarized Wells Fargo mortgage offices throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland in 2012 and 2013. The defendants stole over 1,800 mortgage files that were then used in a variety of bank customer impersonation and retail credit fraud schemes, targeting various banks and retailers. Washington recruited individuals to go into banks, impersonate customers and remove funds via setting up business accounts and transferring funds from the accounts of bank customers. Washington and other defendants, including Greene, traveled from New York to the Eastern District of Virginia on multiple occasions throughout 2012 and 2013. Continue Reading…

Matthew Goldreich, 46, East Lyme, Connecticut, pleaded guilty in New Haven federal court to a false advertising offense stemming from his production and dissemination of false advertisements for mortgage modification services.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Goldreich used his New London-based media agency, National Media Connection, LLC, to produce and air television, radio, and Internet advertisements for the National Mortgage Help Center, LLC (“NMHC”), a shell company incorporated by Goldreich. The advertisements falsely claimed that NMHC could help struggling homeowners obtain home mortgage loan modifications. For example, one advertisement that aired in 2010 stated: “Attention homeowners. We know it’s tough out there. And while America’s homeowners are facing more challenges than ever before, the National Mortgage Help Center is ready to help.” The same advertisement also stated: “We may be able to lower your rate to as low as 1% and cut your mortgage payment in half. Our trained specialists know all the new regulations to get you quick relief. We help thousands of homeowners every day.” Continue Reading…

Glorvina Constant, 36, New Haven, Connecticut, was sentenced  to one year of probation for participating in a mortgage fraud scheme.  Her husband, Jason Sheehan, 41, New Haven, Connecticut, was sentenced to 37 months in prison for a bankruptcy and tax fraud scheme involving his company, Infinistaff, LLC.  As part of that scheme, Constant received Infinistaff payroll checks totaling $354,000 during the pendency of Infinistaff’s bankruptcy proceedings even though she performed no work for the company. Continue Reading…