SUSPENDED ATTORNEY SENTENCED TO 12 YEARS FOR LEADERING LARGE-SCALE MORTGAGE FRAUD RING
BOSTON, Mass. - A Brookline man convicted of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering was sentenced today for his role as the leader of a mortgage fraud ring that involved 21 fraudulent property transactions and defrauded 10 mortgage lenders of more than $10.6 million in loan proceeds.
ERIC L. LEVINE, 58, of Brookline, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole, Jr. to 12 years imprisonment, to be followed by two years of supervised release. The Court also entered an order of forfeiture in the amount of $1,912,000 as part of the sentence.
In 2008, a total of 11 defendants were indicted in this case. Five defendants, including LEVINE, were convicted of conspiracy and wire fraud counts by a federal jury following a seven-week trial in June 2010. LEVINE and defendant J. DANIEL LINDLEY were also convicted of money laundering. Five defendants pleaded guilty before the trial, and one defendant is awaiting trial.
Between May 2005 and June 2006, the defendants participated in a conspiracy to obtain $10.6 million in mortgage loan proceeds by fraud. The scheme involved the use “straw” buyers, inflated purchase prices and documents containing numerous false representations, such as false information about the purchase price, borrower income, employment, and intent to reside in the property. The difference between actual purchase prices negotiated with sellers and the inflated purchase prices submitted to lenders ranged as high as $255,000 on properties in South Boston, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Quincy, Hyde Park and Cohasset. These fraudulent "mark-ups" added up to over $1.9 million. From this $1.9 million, the defendants pocketed more than $1.7 million in illegal proceeds. The mortgages on all of the properties were defaulted upon and nearly all went into foreclosure. LEVINE, an attorney whose license to practice law was suspended at the time of the crimes, participated in the scheme by causing bogus HUD-1 Settlement Statements and deeds to be created and sent to mortgage lenders. LEVINE also caused nearly all of the illegal proceeds from the conspiracy to be deposited into accounts he controlled, kept some of the profits, and distributed the remainder to other co-conspirators.
LEVINE is the tenth defendant sentenced to date. In October 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; ERNST APPOLON was sentenced to prison for 120 months; JERMAINE BLAKE was ordered to serve a prison term of 30 months; WIDNER LAMARRE was sentenced to 60 months in prison; and LATOYA HALTIWANGER was sentenced to 30 months in prison. In November 2010, JEAN NORISCAT was sentenced to a prison term of 87 months. On November 10, 2011, attorney J. DANIEL LINDLEY was sentenced to 72 months and on January 14, 2011, ANDRE JUNIOR LAMERIQUE was sentenced to 60 months in prison. Defendant RALPH APPOLON is scheduled for trial on February 7, 2011.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said, “The sentences in this case reflect the seriousness of the crimes at issue. Sham transactions like these drive up prices for legitimate homeowners. The abandonment of the properties to foreclosure often further victimize the affected neighborhoods. These economic crimes have a profound and direct impact on the lives of innocent homeowners.”
United States Attorney Ortiz; Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Robert Bethel, Inspector in Charge of the United States Postal Inspection Service; William P. 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 B. Murrane, Chief 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.