Fraudulent Loan Applications Lands Straw Buyer in Prison

Allison Tussey —  April 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

Maria Logan, 47, Plainfield, Connecticut, was sentenced by Senior United States District Judge Alfred V. Covello in Hartford, Connecticut, to 24 months of imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release, for her participation in an eastern Connecticut mortgage fraud scheme.

As previously reported by Mortgage Fraud Blog, 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 to purchase real estate, primarily residential housing properties located in New London County, Connecticut, 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. Logan acted as a borrower and a “buyer” in connection with various real estate transactions.

In 2006, Logan conspired with Guzman, Lancia, and/or Petro to act as a buyer in connection with the purchase of four properties in New London, Connecticut, and one property in Norwich, Connecticut. 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. For participating in the scheme, Logan was paid $27,000.

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 five property transactions in which Logan was involved have resulted in losses of more than $925,000.

As part of the sentence, Judge Covello ordered Logan to pay $764,527.44 in restitution and to forfeit $27,000.

On October 24, 2011, Logan pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

On April 3, 2012, Judge Covello sentenced Maurizio D. Lancia, a licensed mortgage broker and attorney, to 27 months in prison and on April 4, 2012, Judge Covello sentenced Angel Urena, another straw buyer, to 24 months in prison. Guzman, Petro, and 11 others have pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from this scheme and await sentencing.

David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced the sentence.

This case has been 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 Attorneys Michael S. McGarry and David T. Huang.

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 e-mail to ctmortgagefraud@ic.fbi.gov.

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.

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Allison Tussey

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