Eric Finger, 47, Mineola, New York, a real estate attorney, Reginald Johnson, 38, St. Albans, New York, a mortgage loan officer, and Denise Parks, 46, Olive Branch, Mississippi, a mortgage loan processor, each pled guilty for their roles in a $9 million mortgage fraud scheme. The defendants pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald.
According to the allegations in the indictment previously filed in Manhattan federal court:
Finger, Johnson, and Parks, along with nine other individuals, engaged in an illegal scheme to defraud various lending institutions by using fictitious and fraudulent “straw identities” to apply for mortgage loans. Through the scheme, the defendants were able to obtain more than $9 million in mortgage loans for the purchase of dozens of residential properties throughout the New York City metropolitan area and Long Island. Most of these loans quickly went into default.
Finger was a real estate attorney who acted as the lawyer for the lenders on the transactions and submitted false information to the lenders to conceal the fraud; Johnson ran Reliable Capital Corporation, a mortgage brokerage firm that brokered and processed the fraudulent mortgage applications, and he also sold two of his own properties to straw identities as part of the scheme; and Parks was a loan processor who processed the fraudulent mortgage applications at Reliable Capital and another mortgage brokerage firm.
Finger pled guilty on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. He faces a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison.
Johnson pled guilty on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud and two counts of wire fraud. He faces a maximum sentence of 70 years in prison.
Parks pled guilty on Thursday, April 19, 2012, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. She faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
All three defendants will be sentenced by Judge Buchwald. Finger and Johnson will be sentenced on August 16, 2012, and Parks on August 21, 2012.
Co-defendants Jeffrey Larochelle, Joell Barnett, Foriduzzaman Sarder, Sakat Hossain, Mikael Huq, Frederick Warren, Dorian Brown, and Fritz Bonaventure previously pled guilty in this case. Sarder was sentenced on June 26, 2011 to 78 months in prison, and Hossain was sentenced on March 1, 2012 to 29 months in prison. Larochelle, Barnett, Huq, Warren, Brown, and Bonaventure await sentencing.
Criminal charges remain pending against co-defendant Brandon Lisi. His trial is scheduled to begin on May 7, 2012, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the guilty pleas.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the New York Attorney General’s Office, which led the investigation and has collaborated in the prosecution. He also thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York State Department of Financial Services for their assistance in this case.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael D. Lockard and Ryan P. Poscablo and Assistant Attorney General Meryl Lutsky””who is designated as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in this case””are in charge of the prosecution.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “The fraud in which these three defendants and their co-conspirators engaged permeated nearly every aspect of the mortgage loan process. With these guilty pleas, eleven defendants in this massive fraud have now been adjudged guilty and will be punished.”