7:45PM

AG Cooper puts mortgage con artist behind bars

NC Attorney General Press Release - April 21, 2004

Raleigh : A Wilmington mortgage broker who embezzled close to $1.8 million and caused some consumers to lose their homes has been arrested, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.Tim Caviness, president of Homesavers Financial and Equality Mortgage, was arrested late Friday on criminal charges brought by Cooper. Caviness was arrested by State Bureau of Investigation Agents in Guilford County after the New Hanover County Grand Jury indicted him last week on 18 counts of obtaining $849,042.62 by false pretenses and 18 counts of embezzling $849,042.62 from consumers. He is currently being held in New Hanover County jail on $1.5 million bond.

Caviness is scheduled to appear in New Hanover County Superior Court for a bond hearing at 2 PM Wednesday. The examination by SBI agents and Department of Justice prosecutors working for Cooper will continueand may result in additional charges. Between 1999 and 2001, approximately 48 consumers in southeastern North Carolina lost $1.8 million through Caviness’ mortgage scheme. According to consumers who came forward, Caviness approached them about refinancing their mortgages, promising that the new mortgage could be paid off in five years. Caviness convinced homeowners to refinance 100% of their existing mortgage at a higher interest rate and with higher fees, telling them that the equity they had already paid on their home would go into a trust fund. He promised consumers that they would be able to retire the new debt within five years by using money in the trust fund to make payments on the new mortgage.

Within a matter of months, homeowners found that Caviness had drained their trust funds. Families lost between $8,000 and $177,000 each. Many consumers saw their interest rates and their monthly payments more than double, and some lost their homes as a result. Consumers who have sought new home loans with more reasonable payments have had a difficult time finding reputable lenders who are willing to refinance the entire mortgage.

The Attorney General’s Office first became aware of the scheme in August 2001 because of consumer complaints to the N.C. Office of the Commissioner of Banks. Within weeks, Cooper filed suit against Caviness and put a temporary halt to his business. In 2003, Cooper won a ermanent injunction and a judgment of $1.5 million against Caviness and his company. Caviness has failed to make the court-ordered payment. A bond held by Equality Mortgage worth $150,000 was used to repay consumers a small fraction of the money they lost.

11:36AM

Man indicted in attempted theft of neighbors home

Bronx DA Press Release - April 20, 2004

Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson announced today that a 41 year-old Bronx man has been indicted on charges of attempting to steal and sell the property of a 62 year-old neighbor.

A grand jury has charged Paul Marino, aka “Brian Cartania” of 4385 Vireo Avenue with one count each of Attempted Grand larceny in the 2nd degree and Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the 2nd degree, both “D” class felony offenses. It is alleged that Marino acted in concert with an unapprehended individual, in an attempt to sell the home of Maureen McMahon, a retired schoolteacher. If convicted, Marino faces a term of up to seven years imprisonment on each count. Marino is next scheduled to appear in Bronx Supreme Court, on Friday, May 14, 2004, in Part M60.

The attempted theft of property was uncovered when McMahon, the owner of targeted property on Vireo Avenue, in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx, found an employee of T. Eason Land Surveyors of Port Jefferson, L.I. surveying her property on behalf of Cartania Real Estate Holding Company. The victim contacted authorities who initiated a four-month joint investigation by the Bronx District Attorney’s Detective Squad and the United States Postal Office.

The indictment alleges that in November 2003, Marino, acting as a representative of the Cartania Real Estate Holding Company, and possessing a counterfeit deed with a forged signature, approached a third party and attempted to sell the McMahon home. The indictment further alleges that in the process of attempting to sell the house to the third party, the defendant supplied contracts for the sale of the house to the third party. The third party wrote a check in the amount of $37,500 as a down payment to a fictitious lawyer, who supposedly represented the Cartania Real Estate Holding Company, named on the forged deed.

Noah Fowle of the Bronx Times (read Noah’s full story here) reported conversations with the victim and US Postal Inspector Robert Moriarty.

“I realized somebody was doing something very wrong,” McMahon said. “Then a Woodlawn property owner who had bought my house showed up and wanted to know when I was leaving.”

McMahon said she then contacted the Bronx D.A.’s Office, which in turn began an investigation with the borough’s detective squad and the postal service.

Moriarty said Marino is a seasoned, white-collar criminal who has served time in prison before. “Marino operated under an alias, Brian Cartania, and made up a fake real estate agency and used an address on Webster Avenue as a mail drop,” Moriarty explained. “He has a pretty good background in real estate. He is also capable of getting government grants.”

McMahon, who knew Marino before the incident, said this situation has left her feeling uneasy. “He asked me if I wanted any repair work and mentioned getting a government grant to do the contract,” she said.

“I felt in danger. My peace of my mind is gone,” she said. “I was not even selling my house and someone bought it. How can someone get away with this?”

11:28PM

FBI says Hezbollah raising money through Mortgage Fraud

April 18, 2004 - The Detroit News

DEARBORN — An FBI report says two men indicted in Detroit sent more than $200,000 (Canadian) to buy military equipment for Hezbollah, a terror organization based in southern Lebanon.

The FBI affidavit made public Friday links two high-profile government investigations of alleged funding of Hezbollah in Dearborn. FBI Special Agent Timothy Waters said in a May 2003 affidavit that Mohammed Krayem , who spent time in Canada and Michigan, “sent approximately $200,000 (Canadian) to his brother.” The money was used to “purchase military equipment from United Nations Protection Forces stationed in southern Lebanon” including American-made night vision goggles for Hezbollah.

In January, the government unsealed an indictment charging Mahmoud Youssef Kourani of Dearborn with conspiracy to provide material support or resources to Hezbollah, the Lebanese group that has committed many acts of terror against Israel, as well as the 1989 murder of a U.S. Marine. Waters’ affidavit was filed to get judicial approval to search Kourani’s home in May 2003.

“To support Hezbollah, these criminal enterprises, primarily based in the Detroit area, are engaged in a wide range of offenses, including credit card fraud, bank fraud, mail fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud, bankruptcy fraud, money laundering,” among 11 felonies, the FBI said.

8:38PM

Eleven Defendants Charged By Feds in Illinois Real Estate Closing Scam

Real Estate News (RISMEDIA) - April 16 2004

Eleven suspects have been arrested on charges such as wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering after authorities uncovered an elaborate scheme which defrauded several banks and other lenders out of more than $9.6 million through a series of fraudulent real estate closings in Illinois.

A federal grand jury returned a 37-count indictment against the defendants based on the inquiry conducted by the FBI, IRS and local police. According to the indictment, some of the defendants falsely posed as buyers and sellers of real estate that they had no actual interest in buying or selling. While taking part in these closings, the defendants allegedly often provided false names and presented false identification documents, such as fake Illinois drivers’ licenses and ID cards.

The defendants allegedly caused financing to be arranged for the purported buyers of the real estate. At each of the closings, one of the defendants provided to the title companies a fraudulent mortgage release, authorities allege. These bogus releases falsely represented that the banks and lenders who held the previous mortgages against the real estate had released their mortgages.

Acting in reliance on these mortgage releases, the title companies disbursed the loan funds to the defendants. The defendants laundered these fraudulently obtained loan proceeds in a variety of ways, such as having title companies issue checks to third parties and then depositing the checks into their back accounts. The fraudulent closings took place at branch offices of five different title companies located in Chicago, the Chicago suburbs and Crystal Lake.

The defendants were identified as:
Jan Rozycka, 42
Ignacy Kondrad, 48
Waldemar Wilkiewicz, 28
Michael Skatulski, 32
Magdalena Banasik, 53
Robert Karolkiewicz, 40
Zbigniew Recko, 35
Ioan Corsiuc, 63
Bozena Sauciuc, 43
Dorothy Kawa, 35
Julita Uramowska, 31
Most of them were arraigned this week in federal court.

12:13AM

Muncie man sentenced for obstruction of justice

Susan W. Brooks, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, announced that JEFFREY A. KIDD, 37, Muncie, Indiana, was sentenced to 3 years probation, including 6 months home detention, today by U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney following his guilty plea to obstruction of justice. This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

KIDD’s wife had been called for jury duty in U.S. district court on the same day that Bruce McLaren, formerly a Delaware County juvenile court judge, was scheduled to go to trial on criminal charges in a mortgage fraud scheme. At the time, KIDD’s son was confined in the Delaware County Youth Opportunity Center, which was overseen by McLaren, and KIDD had been carrying a highly visible campaign protesting the conditions at the Youth Opportunity Center. The indictment to which KIDD pleaded guilty arose when he made several phone calls to McLaren in which KIDD suggested that his wife would refuse to vote to convict McLaren if McLaren would assist KIDD in obtaining favorable treatment for his son.

2:52PM

Ex Redskins Player Indicted in Mortgage Fraud case

looksmart - April 14, 2004

Thomas M. DiBiagio, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, announced today that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Ozzie Clay, 61, of Silver Spring, Maryland, with mail fraud, wire fraud, bankruptcy fraud, money laundering and arson offenses in connection with two fraud schemes and an intentional fire at a business formerly operated by Clay.

The indictment also charges Clay with a separate fraud scheme, between 1999 and 2003, involving a scheme to defraud a mortgage company by using a nominee buyer to purchase a home Clay occupied in Silver Spring. The indictment alleges one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud in connection with the acquisition of the mortgage and the purchase of the real estate. It further charges two counts of bankruptcy fraud. The indictment alleges that when Clay and his nominee became delinquent on mortgage payments, Clay fraudulently sought to fend off foreclosure by transferring a portion of the property to a corporation he controlled and by placing the entity into bankruptcy.
11:17AM

Former Redskins player indicted fro Fraud, Arson and Money Laundering

US DOJ Press Release - April 14, 2004

GREENBELT , Maryland - Thomas M. DiBiagio, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, announced today that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Ozzie Clay, 61, of Silver Spring, Maryland, with mail fraud, wire fraud, bankruptcy fraud, money laundering and arson offenses in connection with two fraud schemes and an intentional fire at a business formerly operated by Clay.

The 17-count indictment charges Clay, who once played for the Washington Redskins, with 13 felony offenses relating to his operation of Armorguard Manufacturing Company, Inc. (“Armorguard”), which manufactured and installed security doors and related home improvement products and services. Using various corporate entities, in 1999 Clay acquired the stock of Armorguard and Frager Bears, Inc. (“Frager Bears”), a Maryland corporation which owned property located in Temple Hills, Maryland where Armorguard’s business was located.
By 2000, Clay’s business entities were declared in default on approximately $1 million in loans extended to Armorguard and Frager Bears by SunTrust Bank and its predecessors; Armorguard had failed to pay its federal withholding taxes; the Maryland Home Improvement Commission revoked Armorguard’s state license to enter into home improvement contracts; and Armorguard’s insurer cancelled its coverage. The indictment charges that during the first and second weeks of August 2000, Armorguard failed to make salary payments to its employees, and on August 14, 2000, a number of

Armorguard employees walked off of their jobs because they were not getting paid. The following day, the indictment alleges, Clay caused a fire to be set at Armorguard, which caused extensive damage to the premises. The Prince George’s County Fire Department investigated and determined that the sprinkler system had been deactivated, that ignitable liquid had been utilized in setting the fire, and that there were multiple points of origin for the fire.

The indictment also charges Clay with a separate fraud scheme, between 1999 and 2003,involving a scheme to defraud a mortgage company by using a nominee buyer to purchase a home Clay occupied in Silver Spring. The indictment alleges one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud in connection with the acquisition of the mortgage and the purchase of the real estate.

It further charges two counts of bankruptcy fraud. The indictment alleges that when Clay and his nominee became delinquent on mortgage payments, Clay fraudulently sought to fend off foreclosure by transferring a portion of the property to a corporation he controlled and by placing the entity into bankruptcy.

11:09AM

Man charged with mortgage related bankruptcy fraud

US DOJ Press Release - April 14, 2004  

United States Attorney Patrick L. Meehan today announced the return of a two-count Indictment* charging GEORGE ATIYEH with bankruptcy fraud and concealment of bankruptcy assets.

The Indictment charges that Quality Realty Construction, Inc. (“QRCI”), an Allentown, PA company of which Atiyeh was the president and 50% owner, filed for bankruptcy on February 7, 1997. According to the Indictment, in 1996, QRCI sold property to Regional Realty Holdings, Inc. (“RRHI”) for $425,000. As part of the purchase agreement, RRHI gave QRCI a purchase money mortgage in the amount of $375,000 to be paid in 60 monthly installments of $7,967.64 beginning in October of 1996 and ending in September of 2001.

The Indictment alleges that once the bankruptcy was filed on February 7, 1997, these monthly payments to QRCI were the property of the bankruptcy estate and could not be disbursed without authorization from the Bankruptcy Court. The Indictment charges that Atiyeh fraudulently embezzled approximately $280,000 between February 1997 and August 2000 and fraudulently concealed the disbursements.

Atiyeh was convicted in September 2002 for operating an “offshore” gambling operation. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison. His appeal is currently pending in the Third Circuit.

Read the full indictment here