Joseph Kriz, 45, Wilton, Connecticut, pleaded guilty on August 4, 2008, before United States Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel in Bridgeport, Connecticut to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, one count of fraud in loan and credit applications, and one count of mail fraud. The charges stem from a three-year mortgage fraud scheme through which Kriz and others defrauded federally insured financial institutions, real estate sellers, individuals who sought to refinance existing mortgages, and title companies.
According to documents filed with the Court and statements made in court, Kriz practiced as a real estate attorney in Westport, Connecticut, was a licensed mortgage broker and was a principal of Aspetuck Building & Development, LLC. Kriz and several co-conspirators sought to develop various properties that they had purchased in order to flip the properties, once they were developed, for substantial profit. In pleading guilty, Kriz admitted that, between approximately January 2005 and March 2008, he and his co-conspirators altered and created false documents to obtain financing for the properties, which far exceeded the value of the property underlying the mortgages. In one instance, Kriz and his co-conspirators commissioned a false appraisal of a property that falsely added to the finished square footage, thereby augmenting the value of a property for which Kriz and his co-conspirators sought financing. Kriz also admitted that he converted funds from the sale of his clients’ homes, or from the refinancing of his clients’ homes, for his own and his co-conspirators’ benefit rather than pay off the underlying mortgages on the properties as he had promised his clients. During many of the property refinancings that he handled, Kriz mailed to a title insurance company a title policy that represented that the new mortgage was the primary lien on the property. However, Kriz had converted the new mortgage to fund his and his co-conspirators’ development projects, and the existing mortgage remained the primary lien on the property.
As a result of this fraudulent conduct, Kriz defrauded banks and his clients of more than $8 million.
Kriz is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Janet C. Hall on October 23, 2008, at which time Kriz faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 65 years and a fine of up to approximately $16 million.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rahul Kale.