STRAW BUYER IN EASTERN CONNECTICUT MORTGAGE
FRAUD SCHEME SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS IN PRISON
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ANGEL URENA, 26, formerly of Ashley, Penn., was sentenced yesterday by Senior United States District Judge Alfred V. Covello in Hartford to two years of imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release, for his participation in an eastern Connecticut mortgage fraud scheme.
According to court documents and statements made in court, 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 (“borrowers”) to purchase real estate, primarily residential housing properties located in New London County, 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. URENA acted as a borrower and a “buyer” in connection with various real estate transactions.
In 2007, URENA acted as a buyer in connection with Guzman’s purchase of two properties in New London and one property in Killingly. URENA understood that he would be purchasing the properties in name only and that Guzman would hold the properties a short time before he sold them again. URENA provided his name, social security number, and other information necessary to establish his credit history so that mortgages could be obtained in his name in connection with each property purchased. Although URENA never intended to live at the properties he was purchasing or make any mortgage payments, URENA signed mortgage documents that falsely conveyed to the lenders his intention to do so. In return for serving as a buyer and borrower, URENA was paid over $24,000 by Guzman or others.
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 three property transactions in which URENA was involved have resulted in losses of nearly $500,000.
As part of the sentence, Judge Covello ordered URENA to pay $352,676.44 in restitution and to forfeit $24,600.
On October 24, 2011, URENA pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. He surrendered to federal authorities on January 11, 2012, to begin serving his sentence in this case.
On April 3, 2012, Judge Covello sentenced co-defendant Maurizio D. Lancia, a licensed mortgage broker and attorney, to 27 months in prison. Guzman, Petro, and 12 others have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
This case is being 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 email to email@example.com.
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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