News and Press Releases

ORGANIZER IN TOP DOT MORTGAGE SCHEME PLEADS GUILTY IN WEST PALM BEACH

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19, 2010

Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Henry Gutierrez, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Miami Division, Michael Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, J. Thomas Cardwell, Commissioner, State of Florida Office of Financial Regulation, and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, State of Florida Department of Financial Services, announced that defendant Jason Vitulano, 44, of Boca Raton, Florida, pled guilty today before U. S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud (Count 1) and one count of mail fraud (Count 12), in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349 and 1341, respectively. Vitulano is being held in pre-trial detention pending sentencing, which has been scheduled for July 19, 2010, at 10:30 am.

According to documents filed with the court, from January 2006 through October 2007, Vitulano conspired with others to commit mail and wire fraud by submitting false mortgage loan applications to Washington Mutual and other lenders. The superseding indictment also charged defendants Peter Hartofilis, Joseph B. Miller, Robert Hofler, and Steve Vento. Defendant Hofler has pled guilty and is currently awaiting sentencing. The case against defendants Hartofilis, Miller and Vento is pending and trial is scheduled for July 5, 2010.

According to the factual proffer filed with the court in support of the guilty plea, Vitulano was a branch manager at TopDot Mortgage, in Boca Raton, where Vitulano and others, including co-branch manager Hartofilis, devised a scheme to submit fraudulent loan applications to numerous lenders. The false loan applications grossly inflated the loan applicants’ earnings and assets on deposit in a local bank. Furthermore, according to the proffer, Vitulano recruited attorney co-defendant Joseph Miller to act as closing and title agent on a number of these loan transactions. According to Vitulano’s proffer, Miller agreed to divert loan proceeds to the personal accounts of Vitulano, Hartofilis and others without disclosing that fact to the mortgage lenders.

Defendant Robert Hofler pled guilty to the conspiracy charge on April 8, 2010. Hofler was a vice president at First Southern Bank in Boca Raton. According to documents filed in the case, Hofler used his position to falsify verification of deposit forms that were used to deceive lenders into believing that a prospective loan applicants had large balances on deposit at First Southern, which was not true. In reliance on these and other false statements in the loan applications, the lenders approved and funded more than $5 million in mortgage loans to purchase residences in Palm Beach and Broward Counties.

At sentencing, defendants Vitulano and Hofler each face a maximum statutory term of imprisonment of up to 30 years in prison on each of the counts against them.

U.S. Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman commended the State of Florida Office of Financial Regulation, the U. S. Postal Inspection Service, the U. S. Secret Service, and the State of Florida Department of Financial Services for their work in the case. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lauren Jorgensen and Ellen Cohen, in conjunction with the Palm Beach County Mortgage Fraud Task Force.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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