Archives For New York

Selim Zherka, 47, businessman, Somers, New York, pled guilty to conspiring to make false statements to a bank in order to receive millions of dollars in loans and to file materially false tax returns with the IRS.  As part of his plea agreement, Zherka agreed to forfeit $5.23 million.

According to the Superseding Information filed in White Plains federal court and other court documents filed in the case:  From December 2005 through the present, Zherka conspired with others to obtain $63.5 million in loans from Sovereign Bank (now Santander), for the purchase and/or refinancing of apartment house complexes in Tennessee by lying about the purchase price of the real estate he was acquiring and the amount of the down payment he was making toward the purchase in question. Continue Reading…

Ignacio Huergo, 44, Miami, Florida, was sentenced to 2 years’ probation, with six months to be served on home confinement, for his conviction for concealing massive financial institution fraud.  Huergo was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $736,254.25 to M&T Bank.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross, who is handling the case, stated that Huergo worked for the companies of Frank Garcia, Federal Guaranty Mortgage Company (FGMC) and Guaranty Realty and Investment (GRI) as a bookkeeper and tax preparer between 2006 and 2008.  During that time, Huergo became aware of the business practices of Garcia, and knew that Garcia used him and another person as straw buyers as part of this vast mortgage fraud scheme.  The defendant also knew that Garcia manipulated financial statements that Huergo drafted, which were sent to financial institutions, indicating that FGMC had a minimum net worth of over $1,000,000.  Knowing about the fraud and the two ways it was perpetrated, Huergo failed to notify the authorities of Garcia’s fraud, resulting in a $24 million dollar loss to various financial institutions.  One such institution, M & T Bank, was defrauded out of approximately $4.4 million.

Garcia previously pleaded guilty to his part in this $24 million financial institution fraud scheme.  Garcia is scheduled to be sentenced on August 24, 2015.

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge, Brian P. Boetig.

Judge Denies Habeas, Upholding Fraud Conviction

A former leader of a Haitian paramilitary force failed to persuade a judge that his mortgage fraud conviction in the United States was unsound.

Eastern District Judge Jack Weinstein denied Emmanuel “Toto” Constant’s habeas corpus petition on Friday, saying the lead-up to his conviction—which involved a state judge’s sua sponte decision to vacate Constant’s plea deal in light of serious allegations against him for his acts in Haiti—did not run afoul of due process requirements.

Brandon Sestoso, 33, Hicksville, New York, his brother Chas Sestoso, 31, Hicksville, New York and Jesse Kusinow, 32, Howell, New  Jersey were charged with breaking into a residence in Jamaica Estates, New York in April, 2015, changing the locks and refusing to allow the true homeowners to enter the premises until they transferred the deed of the house to the defendants.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said, “In a truly bizarre case, the defendants are accused of breaking into a Queens residence and locking the true owners out, then forcing them to negotiate with the defendants if they wanted to gain access to their own home. If convicted, the defendants face lengthy  time behind bars.” Continue Reading…

Court Holds Claims of Forged Deeds Not Subject to Time Limits (New York)

Although the CPLR sets forth an applicable statute of limitations period for virtually all causes of action, and otherwise provides for a catch-all limitations period under CPLR 213(1) for claims that are not specifically delineated, the Court of Appeals has recently held that one particular, and not altogether uncommon, cause of action is not subject to any limitations period. In a remarkable 4-3 holding in Faison v. Lewis, the majority of the Court of Appeals held that a claim alleging forgery of a deed is not subject to any statute of limitations defense.

Jonathan Lyons, 53, a former sales representative at a company purporting to provide mortgage modification services, Rockville Center, New York, pled guilty in Manhattan federal court for his role in a multimillion-dollar scheme that victimized more than 500 financially struggling homeowners across the country.  Lyons, who was arrested in October 2013, pled guilty before U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels.

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment and related Informations, the plea agreements, and statements made in court proceedings: Continue Reading…

Michael St. Claire, 36, Skaneateles, New York was sentenced to six months in prison, an additional four months of home confinement, and ordered to pay $1,257,945 in restitution in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme which resulted in losses of more than $1 million to lenders. St. Claire previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Continue Reading…

Carlton P. Cabot, 52, Stamford, Connecticut, and Timothy J. Kroll, 44, New Hope, Pennsylvania, – the former Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Cabot Investment Properties LLC, respectively – were arrested for allegedly participating in a scheme to defraud investors in numerous real estate investments by misappropriating over $17 million to pay for personal and business expenses and covering up their fraud with manipulated financial statements.

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Mario Alvarenga, Rajesh Maddiwar, and Amir Meiri were arrested for participating in a scheme wherein, through an organization that advertised help to those seeking loan modifications to avoid foreclosure, obtained millions of dollars by deceiving homeowners into selling their homes to a company associated with the defendants.

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Steven Essig, Syracuse, New York, a licensed appraiser and the owner of an appraisal company in Syracuse, pleaded guilty to a felony charge stemming from making false entries in an appraisal report. The falsified report was used to obtain a mortgage as part of a million dollar mortgage fraud scheme.

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