FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2011
NEWARK, N.J. – A former New Jersey loan officer was sentenced today to 70 months in prison in connection with a mortgage fraud and property-flipping scheme involving rental properties in Paterson, N.J., U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Amer Mir, 42, of Jersey City, N.J., was previously convicted in December 2009 after a five-week jury trial of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares. Judge Linares also imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
While a loan officer at Jersey City-based United Home Mortgage Co., Mir conspired to originate fraudulent mortgage loans that were used to finance and refinance the purchase of two- and three-family rental properties in Paterson, N.J. by borrowers who could not afford those loans. During late 2003 through early 2005, Mir routinely overstated borrowers’ assets when taking their loan applications. In addition, he directed the creation of false letters concerning the borrowers’ credit histories. He received $200,000 in commissions once the fraudulent loans closed, as well as substantial cash payments from one of the ringleaders of the scheme. And Judge Linares found that Mir lied to law enforcement prior to being charged and then perjured himself repeatedly while testifying at trial.
In addition to the prison term, Mir was sentenced to three years of supervised release, ordered to pay $2,341,937.82 in restitution, and required to forfeit $210,000 in proceeds of the scheme.
Mir’s case is part of an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG), the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and IRS-Criminal Investigation into fraudulent Federal Housing Administration-insured and conventional mortgage loans originated by various New Jersey mortgage companies. The investigation has resulted in more than a dozen convictions of current or former New Jersey residents, including:
➢ Michael Eliasof, a former real estate agent who helped orchestrate the scheme;
➢ Gerald Carti, a former loan officer and shareholder of U.S. Mortgage Corp. who originated fraudulent mortgage loans during the scheme;
➢ Frederick Ugwu, a real estate investor who sold many Paterson properties during the scheme;
➢ Norman Barna, who like Ugwu sold many Paterson properties through the scheme;
➢ William Ottaviano, an appraiser who misstated the condition of many of the Paterson properties involved in the scheme;
➢ Renford Davis and Hopeton Bradley (now deceased), who jointly managed many of the Paterson properties involved in the scheme;
➢ Claribel Morrobel, a recruiter for the scheme; and
➢ Melanie Gebbia, the former legal assistant of William Colacino (now deceased), a former Garfield attorney and municipal court judge.
Ugwu was convicted at the 2009 trial for his role in the scheme, and Judge Linares recently sentenced him to 50 months in prison and ordered him to pay more than $1.6 million in restitution and forfeit more than $1.75 million in proceeds from the scheme. In addition, Judge Linares recently sentenced Corallo, Eliasof, Carti and Ottaviano to 51 months, 40 months, 27 months, 15 months and six months in prison, respectively, for their roles in the scheme, while Barna, Gebbia and Morrobel each received probation.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of HUD-OIG, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Joseph W. Clarke for the Mid-Atlantic region; special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark; inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Postal Inspector In Charge Thomas E. Boyle; and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff, for the investigation leading to today’s sentence.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark E. Coyne, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Appeals Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew E. Beck of the U.S. Attorney’s Economic Crimes Unit.
Defense counsel: Gerald M. Saluti, Esq., Newark, N.J.