FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 28, 2011
TRENTON, N.J. – A former New Jersey mortgage broker admitted today that he participated in a mortgage fraud scheme which defrauded lenders and generated millions of dollars in fraudulent mortgage loans, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Ara Mesropian, 39, of Paramus, N.J., pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Mesropian entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton federal court.
According to documents filed in this and related cases and statements made in court:
Mesropian admitted that from March 2008 to January 2009, he participated in a scheme to defraud mortgage lenders by completing fraudulent residential loan applications in order to procure millions of dollars in home loans. The loan applications contained material misrepresentations, including that borrowers put cash down at the closings and that the properties would be the borrowers’ primary residences. The applications also showed inflated assets and earnings for borrowers. Mesropian admitted that he submitted the fraudulent loan applications to the mortgage lenders.
As a mortgage broker, Mesropian assisted co-conspirators Eddie Dukhman, 35, of Sewaren, N.J., and Frank Corallo, 38, of Maywood, N.J., who were previously charged by Complaint in connection with the scheme. Dukhman, with the assistance of two attorneys, arranged to purchase properties owned by financial institutions, commonly referred to as real-estate-owned, or REO properties. At about the same time, Corallo recruited other individuals to purchase those same properties.
Dukhman, Corallo, Mesropian, and other co-conspirators employed numerous fraudulent techniques to further their scheme – including falsifying financial documents, HUD-1 settlement statements and residential loan applications; causing borrowers to apply and obtain loans on properties that they did not own; and failing to record deeds with the county clerk.
The wire fraud conspiracy count to which Mesropian pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Sentencing is currently scheduled for November 22, 2011.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in charge Michael B. Ward; and the United States Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jacob Christine, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey A. Levine of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Heath Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark.
As for Dukhman and Corallo, the charges and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working 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.
Defense counsel: Marc E. Leibman Esq., Fort Lee, N.J.