Angel Urena, 26, Ashley, Pennsylvania, and Maria Logan, 47, Plainfield, Connecticut, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud before Senior United States District Judge Alfred V. Covello in Hartford, Connecticut, to federal offenses related to their participation in an eastern Connecticut mortgage fraud scheme.
According to court documents and statements made in court, from approximately 2004 to 2007, Jose Guzman, Maurizio Lancia, Stacey Petro and others used mortgage brokerage, property management and home improvement companies to arrange for individuals (“borrowers”) to purchase real estate, primarily residential housing properties located in New London County, by obtaining funding from various mortgage companies and mortgage originators after submitting false information on the borrowers’ mortgage loan applications.
The fraudulent information included information regarding income, assets, employment, rent history, as well as the borrowers’ intention to make the properties their primary residence. The borrowers were compensated for participating in the scheme. Urena and Logan both acted as borrowers and “buyers” in connection with various real estate transactions.
In 2006 and 2007, Urena acted as a buyer in connection with Guzman’s purchase of two properties in New London and one property in Killingly. Urena understood that he would be purchasing the properties in name only and that Guzman would hold the properties a short time before he sold them again. Urena provided his name, social security number, and other information necessary to establish his credit history so that mortgages could be obtained in his name in connection with each property purchased. Although Urena never intended to live at the properties he was purchasing or make any mortgage payments, Urena signed mortgage documents that falsely conveyed to the lenders his intention to do so. In return for serving as a buyer and borrower, Urena was paid thousands of dollars by Guzman.
In 2006, Logan conspired with Guzman, Lancia and/or Petro to act as a buyer in connection with the purchase of three properties in New London and one property in Norwich. In connection with each purchase, Logan signed mortgage documents that fraudulently stated, among other things, the name of her employer, her length of employment there, and her monthly income. Logan also received thousands of dollars for participating in the scheme.
Scheme participants used a portion of the proceeds from the mortgage funding provided by the lenders to pay themselves large commissions, fees, and other monies for their own use and benefit.
According to previously filed court documents, the government believes that more than 200 fraudulent mortgages were funded through this mortgage fraud scheme. Many of the properties have been foreclosed on and lenders have suffered losses of millions of dollars. The seven property transactions in which Urena and Logan were involved have resulted in losses of approximately $1.4 million.
Urena and Logan are scheduled to be sentenced on January 18, 2012, at which time each defendant faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
To date, a total of 14 individuals have pleaded guilty to various charges stemming from this scheme. Guzman, Lancia and Petro have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced the guilty pleas.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael S. McGarry and David T. Huang, with the assistance of law student intern Yeney Hernandez.
In July 2009, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced the formation of the Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force to investigate and prosecute mortgage fraud cases and related financial crimes occurring in Connecticut. Citizens are encouraged to report any suspected mortgage fraud activity by calling 203-333-3512 and requesting the Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force includes representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Internal Revenue Service ““ Criminal Investigation; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General, and State of Connecticut Department of Banking.
To report financial fraud crimes, and to learn more about the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, please visit www.stopfraud.gov.