Entries in Closing Agent/Attorney (316)

4:12PM

Staten Island attorney charged in larcency involving real estate

STATEN ISLAND, NY - Richmond County District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. announced today the arrest, Wednesday evening, of attorney Dennis Vourderis (DOB: 4/27/1955) of the Tottenville section of Staten Island on charges of Grand Larceny in the 2nd and 4th Degrees, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the 2nd Degree, and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property. Vourderis, whose license to practice law has already been suspended in New York is accused of bilking over $155,000 from two clients and cashing two forged checks stolen from a Staten Island real estate firm.

District Attorney Donovan stated, “Dennis Vourderis is alleged in this complaint to have betrayed the fiduciary responsibility placed in him by his clients, by purposely misappropriating, for his personal use, the funds remitted to him for financial transactions. As a result of these actions three individuals are facing serious financial issues and one victim is even facing bank foreclosure of his home. My office is meeting with additional clients of the defendant who may have been similarly victimized. We believe there may be scores of additional victims across the metro area and I would encourage them to contact my office as soon as possible.”

On December 14, 2004 Vourderis represented a 51 year old male resident of West New Brighton, in the refinancing of the victim’s home with a loan of approximately $190,000. The defendant was to pay-off the victim’s first mortgage valued at approximately $135,000 and a second mortgage valued at approximately $37,000; with the victim receiving $7,000. The defendant is alleged to have only paid the $37,000 mortgage in September 2005, while neither paying the first mortgage nor refunding the balance of approximately $150,000 to the victim. As a result of the alleged actions of the defendant, the victim’s home is currently in foreclosure.

The defendant is also alleged to have stolen $5,400 from a 36 year old male who had retained his representation on January 20, 2005 to facilitate the closing of the sale of his residence in the Port Richmond section of the borough. The victim provided the defendant with $6,000 to be held in escrow and ultimately to be dispersed in the amount of $5,300 to pay outstanding debts of the victim; with $700 ultimately to be released back to the custody of the victim. The defendant is alleged to have only paid $600 of the outstanding debts and failed to refund the victim the remaining balance.

In May of 2005, while utilizing desk space within a real estate brokerage located in the Pleasant Plains section of the borough, Vourderis is alleged to have deposited two checks, in the amounts of $67,000 and $68,000, from accounts belonging to the real estate firm, that were reported to be stolen and forged by the holder of the accounts.

The investigation is being conducted by Richmond County District Attorney’s Detective Investigators Gary Mercer and Robert Keating under the supervision of Chief Investigator Robert Turbiak. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney David Frey, Computer and Technology Investigations Unit Chief, under the supervision of ADA Mario Mattei, Chief of the Investigations Bureau.

Anyone who believes that they may have been victimized by Dennis Vourderis are encouraged to call Detective Investigators Mercer or Keating at 718-876-6300. The defendant is schedule to be arraigned Thursday in Staten Island Criminal Court. He is represented by Patrick Broderick, Esq.

The top count, Grand Larceny in the 2nd Degree, is a Class C felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

5:17PM

3 attorneys charged in Atlanta mortgage fraud

Sally Quillian Yates, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and James H. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, Atlanta Field Office, announce that Atlanta real estate lawyer, R H H, III (all charges dismissed on March 14, 2007 - see below), 38, and former lawyer SHAREL L. PAYNE, 37, were arraigned in federal court today before United States Magistrate Judge Janet F. King on mortgage fraud charges made in a superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury on October 19, 2005.

This superceding indictment follows that issued earlier in the year against Nathan Parker and others. Click here for that blog entry.

Click here for the indictment, please note it is a 3.2 MB file - 100 pages long - and may take a little while to download on a dsl connection and a while longer on a dial-up connection.

The properties mentioned in the indictment are (all in Atlanta):
86 Burbank Avenue
3115 Rilman Road
246 Atlanta Avenue
272 Atlanta Avenue
537 Angier Avenue
3708 Austin Woods Court
15280 Highgrove Road, Alpharetta
199 Grffin Street
2026 Emery Place
955 Harte Drive
577 Rankin Street
64 Ormond Street
908 Crew Street
819 Glendale Terrace

According to Yates H and PAYNE entered not guilty pleas to the charges and bond was set for each at $100,000. H is a principal in the Atlanta law firm of R H H, III and Associates. PAYNE was a principal in the Atlanta law firm of the Payne Group.

In addition to HIPPE and PAYNE, the superseding indictment charges Atlanta lawyer MICHAEL BROCHSTEIN, 49, with mortgage fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and related violations in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme. BROCHSTEIN made his initial appearance before Magistrate Judge E. Clayton Scofield, III on October 25, 2005, where bond was set at $100,000. He is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges on Wednesday, November 2, 2005, before Magistrate Judge Janet F. King. BROCHSTEIN is a partner in the law firm of Brochstein & Bantley.

The indictment supersedes the original indictment filed January 27th, 2005. The superseding indictment also charges Atlanta mortgage broker/loan officer NATHAN PARKER, a/k/a “Nathan Pasha,” 48, his brother, Atlanta loan processor DANIEL PARKER, III, 54, Atlanta real estate appraiser CARLA KINSEY, 40, Atlanta real estate investor DAVID PINNIX, 42, and Atlanta real estate investor LARRY BOLTON, 56.

The superseding indictment charges that beginning in January 1999 and continuing until October 2001, the defendants defrauded financial institutions and other mortgage lenders by recruiting and causing straw borrowers to submit false qualifying information and false documentation to obtain mortgage loans to buy residential properties. The defendants used stolen identities and false Social Security numbers for some of the loan applicants. In other cases, the defendants paid straw borrowers to obtain mortgage loans with false employment, income, assets and liabilities. The indictment charges that the applications for numerous loans totaled approximately $4 million.

The superseding indictment charges that the defendants used fraudulent appraisals, prepared by CARLA KINSEY and others, to inflate the market value of the properties. The defendants also inflated the contract sales prices, thus, substantially increasing the amounts that the lenders would lend on the properties. The superseding indictment also charges that PAYNE, BROCHSTEIN and H, created materially false settlement statements, which failed to disclose to the lenders, their clients, the accurate receipt and disbursement of loan proceeds, thereby facilitating their co-conspirators’ efforts to conceal the true property sales prices from the mortgage lenders. The superseding indictment also alleges that at certain closings BROCHSTEIN, PAYNE and H allowed other participants in the scheme to close on properties without the down payments that were required in the sales contracts. The superseding indictment further alleges that BROCHSTEIN, PAYNE and H failed to disclose to the lenders that the purchasers did not have the required down payments at closings.

According to the public documents filed in this case, the properties are all residential houses in the metro Atlanta area. Some of the lenders and financial institutions which were victimized in the mortgage fraud scheme are located in the Atlanta area.

Members of the public are reminded that the superseding indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

3:38PM

Class action suit claims settlement firm was a sham

Caryn Tamber reports for The Daily Record, Baltimore, that according to a class action lawsuit filed in Baltimore County Circuit Court this week, a title company and a mortgage broker formed a sham settlement firm to bilk borrowers. The suit was filed by Patricia M. and Timothy J. Benway of Baltimore. The Benways allege that they took out a $36,000 second mortgage last year using Access One Mortgage Group as the broker and Resource Real Estate Services as the title company, for which they paid “exorbitant” title fees of $1,165.

Access One and Resource Real Estate set up a company called Clipper City Settlement Services Inc. so they could charge higher fees to borrowers, according to the suit.  One of the Benways’ attorneys, Kieron F. Quinn, said he does not know the size of the class of borrowers affected by the alleged scam.

For all the defendants, the Benways allege violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, negligent misrepresentation, fraud and civil conspiracy. They also claim that Access One violated Maryland’s Finders Fee Act and Resource Real Estate aided and abetted those violations, and that both companies conspired to violate that law.

The suit claims that Resource Real Estate and Access One fraudulently listed Clipper City’s name on settlement documents as having provided title or closing services, allowing it to charge fees between $400 and $1,000 for each settlement.

“The fees or other consideration was received or paid to Access One without disclosing to the borrower that the consideration was a kickback to reward the mortgage broker for the referral of the closing settlement work to Resource Real Estate,” the complaint reads.

“In so doing, Access One and Resource Real Estate were able to systematically and deceptively hide and conceal the fact that Clipper City was a sham ‘Affiliated Business Arrangement’ and served no purpose other than to: (1) permit the mortgage broker to pocket additional monies, paid by the borrower, while providing no additional goods or services; and (2) facilitate the payment of a referral fee and kickback at the increased expense of the borrower and in violation of the borrower’s rights under state and federal law.”

3:04PM

6 people indicted for mortgage fraud in Jackson MS

Jimmie E. Gates reports for The Clarion-Ledge in Jackson MS reports that an attorney, a real estate broker, a real estate agent and three others are the latest to face federal charges for their alleged role in submitting false information to obtain more than $3 million in mortgages.  The alleged scheme was uncovered during an ongoing IRS-FBI investigation into mortgage lending practices. The federal probe has resulted in 10 arrests this year. Facing money laundering and wire fraud charges are Greenwood attorney Bobby F. Fisher Jr., Ridgeland real estate broker John William Emory III and Greenwood real estate agent Jim L. Pruett.

"They all are cooperating and have agreed to waive formal indictment and plead guilty," U.S. Assistant Attorney Cindy Eldridge said. Each faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Click the relevant text for: 1.Goss Indictment; 2.Emory Indictment; 3. Fisher Indictment; 4. Pruett indictment

Joni Lynn Goss, who once owned a mortgage company with her ex-husband, is charged with wire fraud. Ernest Wayne White Jr ., who worked for a mortgage company, is charged with wire fraud.Daniel Floyd, who worked for Fisher, is accused of failure to report mail fraud and wire fraud.

From September 1999 to the indictment, "Fisher and others successfully obtained loans for approximately 48 borrowers totaling more than $2.5 million by creating false documentation and making false entries on documents submitted to the lenders to obtain the loan," the indictment says.

Emory is accused of recruiting prospective borrowers who typically couldn’t afford the loans. "Emory, or others at their direction, would enter false information onto the loan application forms in an effort to induce the lender to make the loan," the indictment says.

The alleged fraud involving Emory totals about $100,000 and occurred from June 2000 through October 2002 in Hinds County and elsewhere when he worked for Wholesale Mortgage Inc. and Mississippi Mortgage Inc.

Pruett is accused of successfully obtaining loans for approximately 17 borrowers totaling $800,000 by creating false documentation and making false documentation and false entries on documents.

12:39PM

Attorney indicted with theft of clients funds, including mortgage proceeds

Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon announced today the filing of Grand Larceny charges against attorney Kenneth B. Carnesi, 53 years old, last known address 114 Wyatt Road, Garden City. Carnesi is accused of stealing clients’ funds amounting to $247,102.81. Carnesi is charged with two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison; one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree; and one count of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree.

Click here for the Nassau County court records for this matter.

Count 1 alleges that Carnesi stole $148,562.68 from a client between August 5, 2002 and December 14, 2002. The stolen money had been held in escrow in regard to two separate real estate transactions.

Count 2 charges Carnesi with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree in that Carnesi stole $51,090.13 from another client, between November 3, 2003 to November 6, 2004 in connection with various legal matters.

Count 3 charges Carnesi with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree for having stolen $45,450 from other clients, between April 11, 2003 to September 14, 2004. The stolen funds had been held in escrow in a mortgage foreclosure action.

Count 4 charges Carnesi with Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree for having stolen $2,000 from another client, between March 2, 2004 to September 14, 2004 in regard to false representations that Carnesi made to his client concerning the progress of a legal matter. Carnesi was disbarred on the court’s acceptance of his resignation as an attorney on November 29, 2004. He was prosecuted federally on Money Laundering charges on which he was sentenced October 14, 2005. He is presently housed at the Queens Private Correctional Facility.

Carnesi will be arraigned later today in First District Court in Hempstead. The charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

12:34PM

12 charged in "false closing agent" case

Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon announced today that the DA’s Special Investigations Bureau has charged eight individuals who conspired to bilk lending institutions and homeowners out of $12 MILLION.


According to Dillon, "Joseph W. LaForte, 34, of 15 Galveston Loop, Staten Island, and 100 South Pointe Dr., Miami Beach, Florida; his brother James LaForte, Jr., 28, of 65 Tuckahoe Avenue, Staten Island; their mother Tina LaForte, 56, of 69 Darnell Lane, Staten Island; their father James LaForte, age 59, of 69 Locust Ave., Staten Island; their sister, Tara Gibson, 33 of 11 Frank Court, Staten Island, and McKinney, Texas; Jaime Lynn Guli, 27, of 15A Galveston Loop, Staten Island; and Francis Alfieri, 27, of 18 Hillis Street, Staten Island were all charged with one count of Grand Larceny in the First Degree, two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, one count of Money Laundering in the First Degree and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree. In addition, Michael O’Leary, 29, of 120 Poillon Ave, Staten Island, was also charged in a separate felony complaint with Money Laundering and Conspiracy counts."

"The charges are based on allegations that the defendants conspired to steal over $12 MILLION from various lending institutions by forming a corporation, which appeared to be a law firm," said Dillon. "They used that corporation to act as attorneys for banks at mortgage closings and then would launder the proceeds through related entities and back to themselves. The corporation they formed, LaMattina & Associates, Inc. opened a bank account to handle the banks’ funds, which was entitled the LaMattina & Associates, Inc., Joseph LaMattina Settlement Trust Account."

"None of the eight individuals charged are attorneys," said Dillon. "Instead, James LaForte contacted Joseph LaMattina, a Staten Island attorney and relative and arranged to make him Secretary of the corporation and use his name. No charges have been brought against Mr. LaMattina at this time. The other corporate officers were, Joseph W. LaForte, its first President, followed by Tina LaForte and Tara Caminiti (now Gibson), Vice President."

"Once the corporation was formed, it made arrangements to represent the banks at mortgage closings," said Dillon. "They opened an office at 220 Old Country Rd., Mineola, where most of the closings took place. The banks would wire the funds into the Joseph LaMattina Settlement Trust Account and LaMattina & Associates, Inc. was then supposed to write checks to either the borrower or on the borrower’s behalf. They then began moving millions back and forth between related entities. Instead they used these fund for their own benefit."

"The Grand Larceny in the First Degree count charges that the defendants stole over $1.5 Million in the beginning of August from First Continental Mortgage and Investment Corp., by removing the funds wired into the Settlement Trust account rather than disbursing them at the borrower’s direction," said Dillon. "The Second Count, Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, accuses the defendants of stealing $350,000 from Coastal Capital Corp. located in Greenvale, NY in the same manner on August 1, 2005. The Third Count, Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, charges the defendants of stealing over $720,000 from Credit Suisse First Boston Financial Corp. The funds were wired into the Settlement Trust Account on August 10, 2005, the closing was never held and the defendants removed the money to other accounts and eventually to themselves."

"The Money Laundering Count alleges that the defendants moved over $4 Million to GMC Land Services, Inc. of Florida and over $9 Million to Key Land Services," said Dillon. "In August the defendants issued three Certified Checks totaling over $1.7 Million to Hillis, Inc. and used those funds to buy bank checks, which they used to make purchased or cashed," said Dillon. "The felony complaint also charged that Francis Alfieri laundered $578,000 through his bank account and that James LaForte, Jr., Joseph W. LaForte, Frank Alfieri and Michael O’Leary cashed bank checks totaling $610,000 at Page Avenue Check Cashers, where Michael O’Leary was employed."

"The stolen funds were used to make mortgage payments on real estate owned by the defendants, to buy a 2005 Bentley and Corvette," said Dillon. "They also used the funds to make mortgage payments of $100,000 and more on real estate they owned. The complaint also alleges that James LaForte Jr. caused a bank check in the amount of $331,851.55 to be issued to a 22 year old female residing at his address.

"The individual homeowners in theses cases were also victims," said Dillon. "The initial complainant was a homeowner who had just sold her house. After she moved out and the buyers moved in, the checks bounced. In addition, the check sent to pay off her mortgage also bounced. It left her in the position of owing money on a mortgage on a house she no longer owned. Over thirty homeowners were similarly effected."

Seven of defendants face up to eight and one-third to twenty five years in prison on each of the Grand Larceny in the First Degree and Money Laundering in the First Degree Charges. Michael O’Leary faces up to eight and one-third to twenty five years in prison on the money laundering charge. "This is one of the largest money laundering scheme that I have seen as Nassau’s District Attorney," said Dillon. "I would like to thank the New York State Banking Department for their assistance during the course of this investigation. My office will be prosecuting this case vigorously, and as always, will work to obtain full restitution on behalf of the victims."

This investigation is continuing," said Dillon. "Anyone with additional information is invited to contact my Special Investigations Bureau at (516) 571-2100."   The charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

3:14AM

Disbarred attorney accused of stealing real estate escrow funds

Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon announced today the arrest of disbarred attorney Patrick L. Rodgers, 44, of 2849 Bay Drive, Merrick, on a charge of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree for stealing $5,000 from his attorney escrow account.

"The charges stem from Rodger’s representation of the seller of a home on Winter Avenue in Uniondale. At the closing, which was held on March 3, 2004, Rodgers agreed to hold $5,000 in his escrow account to ensure a Certificate of Occupancy was obtained on an extension to the house. Records of the Town of the Hempstead Department of Buildings reveal that no attempt to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy was made by Rodgers or anyone else. Rodgers failed to return the funds to either the purchaser, Noa Ventura or his clients, Reginald and Dolores Ross and instead drew checks to himself.

Rodgers was disbarred on March 7, 2005 on unrelated misconduct charges. Before his disbarment Rodgers maintained a law office at One Station Plaza, Wantagh, NY and 2174 Hewlett Avenue, Merrick, NY. Grand larceny in the third degree is a class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. The charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

3:51PM

Lawyer imprisoned for theft of clients funds

The following article by Kathleen Brady Shea is reproduced, in full, from The Philadelphia Enquirer.

A Chester County judge bristled yesterday at the suggestion from a thieving lawyer that he should not be punished more harshly because of his profession. "I beg to disagree," Judge Howard F. Riley Jr. told Glenn Grogan at his sentencing on fraud and theft charges.

Before imposing an 8- to 23-month prison term, followed by seven years’ probation, Riley said that when a lawyer steals from a client, the damage from the breach of trust goes well beyond that caused by a common thief. Riley also ordered Grogan to pay $103,950 in restitution.

Assistant District Attorney Bonnie Cox-Shaw said the charges involved thefts from two clients. In the first case, a man gave Grogan a $100,000 check for his retirement investment, $37,000 of which was for his mortgage payoff.

Grogan, 40, of Elkins Park, never made the payment, and the man lost his home to foreclosure, postponing his retirement, Cox-Shaw said.

In the second case, a woman seeking advice in a civil case lost $3,050 as well as "trust in the legal system," Cox-Shaw said. Grogan’s attorney, C. Curtis Norcini, said Grogan accepted responsibility for his actions. He said Grogan had "voluntarily relinquished" his law license and reduced his spending, moving into a two-bedroom apartment with his wife and four children.

"I’m not the person they experienced a couple of years ago," Grogan told the judge. "I stand before you humbled and sorry for what I did."

Norcini, who said Grogan has been working as senior loan consultant for a mortgage company, asked the judge for a deferred reporting date. He said the extra time would allow Grogan, who gets twice-monthly commissions, to maximize his income for the victims’ benefit.

Riley made Grogan eligible for work-release at the discretion of the warden. "Part of this sentence has to be consideration of the victims," Riley said.

The judge agreed to allow Grogan to report to prison Oct. 30, and he asked whether he had told his employer about his legal situation. "Not yet," Grogan said.