Fraud Schemes Result in Prison Sentence

Rachel Dollar —  March 21, 2016 — Leave a comment

Ryan Geddes, 44, Litchfield, Connecticut was sentenced to 30 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for participating in multiple conspiracies involving a series of real estate transactions intended to shield assets from creditors.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Geddes had accrued a series of debts as of late 2005, and was the subject of various lawsuits and collection efforts for the next several years.  A bank fraud conspiracy commenced in November 2005 when Geddes sold a lakefront home located at 27 Palmer Road, Morris Connecticut to Thomas Provenzano.  Lacking the funds to qualify for the $923,000 mortgage, Provenzano nonetheless obtained the loan based on an application that falsely listed his income as $20,000 per month, or $240,000 annually, and falsely listed Provenzano as having worked for several years as the Operations Manager for one of Geddes’s construction companies.  Provenzano had not worked in that capacity, and had earned substantially less.  The loan application also listed Geddes’s company as having verified Provenzano’s employment.  In November 2006, Provenzano refinanced the loan, obtaining a $936,000 mortgage from a federally insured bank.  The new loan application, like the prior one, falsely listed Provenzano as employed by Geddes’s construction company, and falsely listed his monthly income as $28,000, or $336,000 annually.  The application again listed Geddes’s company as having verified Provenzano’s employment.  The loan is now in default, and the 27 Palmer Road property is in foreclosure.

The first of two mail and wire fraud conspiracies commenced in December 2009 and January 2010, in a series of discussions among Geddes , Provenzano, and others about how to defraud a title insurance company.  The discussions focused on conducting a real property transfer based on a deliberately defective title search, in which liens against the property are omitted, and title insurance is obtained based on the defective title search report.  Later, a fraudulent claim is lodged against the title insurer.  The conspirators decided to attempt the scheme on a property controlled by Geddes, located at 66 Donahue Road Extension, Litchfield, Connecticut.  After Provenzano assisted in a title search, Geddes personally reviewed the report and crossed off several liens to be omitted from the title insurance application.  In March 2010 Geddes arranged a straw transfer of the property to another individual, while continuing to reside in and pay the mortgage and expenses on the property.  Title insurance was issued on the property, with five liens, totaling about $990,000, deliberately omitted from the title search report.

The second of two mail and wire fraud conspiracies commenced in May 2009 when Geddes arranged to transfer another property of his, located in Old Forge, N.Y., to Dustin Whitten.  Geddes continued to use the property and pay the mortgage and maintenance expenses.  In March 2011, Geddes and Whitten arranged to obtain a home insurance policy on the New York property in Whitten’s name.  On July 4, 2011, after a bankruptcy court meeting about seeking to compensate Geddes’s creditors, the New York property was destroyed in a fire.  In September 2011, Whitten swore out an insurance claim on the property, falsely representing himself as the owner and seeking compensation in the respective amounts of $515,038.50 for the destroyed structure and $92,974.47 for personal property allegedly lost in the fire.  The claim was eventually denied by the insurance company.  Geddes has admitted that the purpose of the scheme was to shield the insurance proceeds from his creditors.

Judge Arterton orderedGeddes to pay $703,698.70 in restitution.

On April 28, 2015, Geddes pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

Provenzano and Whitten previously pleaded guilty.  On December 1, 2014, Provenzano was sentenced to 18 month of imprisonment.  On December 18, 2015, Whitten was sentenced to 12 months and one day of imprisonment.

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced the sentence. Geddes was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton.  The matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Henry Kopel and Michael Gustafson.

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Rachel Dollar

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