FEDERAL JURY CONVICTS LOAN ORIGINATOR, 12th DEFENDANT CHARGED IN LARGE-SCALE MORTGAGE FRAUD RING
BOSTON, Mass. - Former Watertown man was convicted yesterday of wire fraud and conspiring to commit wire fraud following a nine-day trial.
RALPH APPOLON, 30, was convicted yesterday of wire fraud and conspiring to commit wire fraud. A federal jury convicted the loan originator for his role in fraudulent property transactions that were part of a larger conspiracy involving 21 property deals in the Greater Boston area and over $10.6 million in loan proceeds.
“Prosecutions of corrupt real estate industry professionals are critical in of our efforts to protect Massachusetts neighborhoods from the serious harms wrought by mortgage fraud schemes like this,” said U.S. Attorney Ortiz. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to ensuring that mortgage fraud conspiracies such as this one are exposed and the perpetrators brought to justice.”
Evidence at trial established that between May 2005 and September 2005, APPOLON, and others, participated in a conspiracy to obtain mortgage loan proceeds by fraud. The scheme involved the use of inflated purchase prices and documents containing false statements about purchase price, borrower income, employment, assets, or intent to live in the properties. The difference between purchase prices discussed with sellers and inflated purchase prices submitted to lenders ranged from as little as $21,000 to as much as $80,000 on individual properties in South Boston and Dorchester. From these fraudulent property transactions, APPOLON received over $150,000. The mortgages on all of the properties were defaulted upon and nearly all went into foreclosure.
Judge O’Toole scheduled the sentencing for Tuesday, May 24, 2011. APPOLON faces up to 20 years in prison, to be followed by up to 3 years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count of wire fraud, and up to 5 years imprisonment, to be followed by up to 3 years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000 on the conspiracy count.
A total of 12 defendants have been prosecuted in connection with the mortgage fraud scheme. Five defendants were convicted of conspiracy and wire fraud counts by a federal jury following a seven-week trial in June 2010. Two of these defendants were also convicted of on money laundering counts. Six other defendants pleaded guilty before the June 2010 trial.
The conspiracy involved 21 property transactions in South Boston, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Quincy, Hyde Park and Cohasset, and the defendants defrauded 10 mortgage lenders of more than $10.6 million in loan proceeds.
Of the defendants who went to trial last year, ERIC L. LEVINE, a suspended attorney, and J. DANIEL LINDLEY, a practicing attorney, participated in the loan closing process and handled the money in the conspiracy. ERNST APPOLON, a real estate broker, identified properties for the conspirators, negotiated purchase prices with sellers, and recruited people to lend their names and credit information (“straw” borrowers) to obtain mortgage loans for property purchases. LATOYA HALTIWANGER, a mortgage broker, was the loan originator for three of the properties in the conspiracy and was the “straw” buyer for a separate property purchase. DANIEL APPOLON recruited two “straw” buyers whose name and credit information were used to purchase three properties.
Co-defendants ANDRE JUNIOR LAMERIQUE, WIDNER LAMARRE, JERMAINE BLAKE, SAMUEL JEAN-LOUIS, who were loan originators in the conspiracy, and JEAN NORISCAT, a recruiter, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and several counts of wire fraud. NORISCAT also pled guilty to several counts of aggravated identity theft. ELIZABETH SON had previously waived indictment and pleaded guilty to an information charging her with wire fraud.
On May 6, 2010, U.S. District Judge Rya W. Zobel sentenced ELIZABETH SON to three years probation with the first 6 months to be served in a halfway house. On October 18, 2010, Judge O’Toole sentenced DANIEL APPOLON to 42 months in prison and ordered co-defendant SAMUEL JEAN-LOUIS to serve a prison term of 22 months. On October 20, 2010, ERNST APPOLON was sentenced to prison for 120 months and on October 21, 2010, JERMAINE BLAKE was ordered to serve a prison term of 30 months. On October 28, 2010, the court sentenced WIDNER LAMARRE to prison for 60 months. LATOYA HALTIWANGER was also sentenced on October 28, 2010 and received a prison sentence of 30 months. On November 1, 2010, JEAN NORISCAT was sentenced to a prison term of 87 months. On November 10, 2011, attorney J. DANIEL LINDLEY was sentenced to serve 72 months in prison, and on January 14, 2011, ANDRE JUNIOR LAMERIQUE was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison. On January 20, 2011, ERIC L. LEVINE was sentenced to serve 144 months in prison.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Richard DeLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Robert Bethel, Postal Inspector in Charge of the United States Postal Inspection Service; William Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation, Boston Field Division; Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino; and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Victor A. Wild and Ryan M. DiSantis of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit and Mary Murrane of Ortiz’s Asset Forfeiture Unit.
Mortgage fraud is a key focus of the Department of Justice who in November 2009 created the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force works to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.