News and Press Releases

TOP DOT MORTGAGE FRAUD MANAGER SENTENCED TO 63 MONTHS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2010

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Henry Gutierrez, Postal Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Miami Division, Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, Miami Field Office, J. Thomas Cardwell, Commissioner, State of Florida Office of Financial Regulation, and Alex Sink, Chief Financial Officer, State of Florida Department of Financial Services, announced that defendant Jason Vitulano, 44, of Boca Raton, FL, the former branch manager for the Top Dot Mortgage Boca Raton branch, was sentenced August 26, 2010, to 63 months in prison by U. S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks. Vitulano had previously pled guilty to Counts 1 and 12 in the superseding indictment in United States v. Jason Vitulano, et al., Case No. 09-80156-CR-MIDDLEBROOKS(s).

Co-defendant and attorney Joseph Miller, 64, of Palm Beach Gardens, FL, was sentenced on August 26, 2010, to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to the conspiracy. Miller had acted as the title agent on a number of closings on fraudulent mortgage loan deals set up by Vitulano and others.

Co-defendant Steve Vento, 42, of Jupiter, FL, was sentenced on August 26, 2010, to one year and a day after pleading guilty to conspiracy charges. Vento was a Top Dot client who submitted fraudulent loan applications in order to obtain financing on real property he owned.

Co-defendant Peter Hartofolis, 33, of Flushing, New York, was sentenced on August 27, 2010, to 27 months in prison for his role as a manager in the Top Dot Mortgage office in Boca Raton.

Vitulano and his co-defendants were charged with conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud by submitting false mortgage loan applications to Washington Mutual and other lenders between January 2006 and October 2007, in violation of 18 U. S. C. § 1349. Vitulano was also charged in the superseding indictment with three counts of mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341, and six counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343, in addition to the conspiracy charge.

According to the charges and statements made in court in connection with the pleas, Vitulano and co-defendant Peter Hartofilis were branch managers of the TopDot Mortgage office in Boca Raton, FL, and they devised a scheme to submit loan applications to numerous lenders that contained grossly inflated statements of loan applicants’ earnings and assets on deposit in a local bank. Attorney Joseph Miller acted as closing agent and title agent on a number of these loan transactions. Miller agreed to divert loan proceeds to the personal accounts of Vitulano, Hartofilis and others without disclosing that fact to the mortgage lenders.

Mr. Ferrer 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 was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lauren Jorgensen and Ellen Cohen. The law enforcement agents and prosecutors are members of 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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