News and Press Releases

Former monmouth county, new jersey mortgage broker sentenced to 30 months in prison for bank fraud scheme



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 24, 2011


 

Joseph Kohen Ordered to Pay Over $22 Million in Restitution to PNC Bank

NEWARK, N.J. – A former Monmouth County, N.J., mortgage broker was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for committing a $25 million bank fraud against PNC Bank, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Joseph Kohen, 40, of Long Branch, N.J., previously admitted to participating in the bank fraud scheme with Solomon Dwek – at the time a Monmouth County-based real estate developer and owner of properties throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties – to defraud PNC Bank by way of false representations and promises. Kohen pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares to a Information charging him with bank fraud. Judge Linares also imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Kohen agreed to participate in a scheme to defraud PNC Bank at Dwek’s request. Kohen admitted that on April 25, 2006, he gave a false name and claimed to be an attorney representing Dwek during a telephone call with an employee of PNC Bank. During the conversation, Kohen claimed that as Dwek’s attorney, he would be sending a wire to cover a $25 million check, though he knew no such wire would be sent.

Prior to the call, Kohen provided Dwek with a copy of a $25 million check drawn on the attorney trust account of an individual identified in court documents as “J.S.,” the name by which Kohen identified himself when posing as Dwek’s attorney. In accordance with Dwek’s instructions, Kohen made the check payable to SEM, a Dwek entity, for the amount of approximately $25,212,076.35. Kohen then forged the signature of J.S. on the check, understanding that Dwek intended to use the check in connection with another transaction. Kohen and Dwek’s actions caused PNC Bank to suffer a loss of over $20 million.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Linares sentenced Kohen to five years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $22,790,000.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Red Bank Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark; and special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff; as well as investigators from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office with the investigation that led to today’s sentence. The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and Brick Township Police Department also assisted in the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian R. Howe, Deputy Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark, and Thomas J. Eicher, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division.

11-083                                                                                          

Defense counsel: Ephraim Savitt, Esq., New York

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