Lawyer Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court For Role In $9 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that ERIC FINGER, a real estate attorney, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court for his role in a $9 million mortgage fraud scheme. FINGER was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Naomi R. Buchwald to 51 months in prison, and was ordered to forfeit $7.2 million.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Eric Finger’s sentence is a fitting conclusion for a man who abused his license to practice law and disgraced the bar by helping to facilitate a multi-million dollar fraud scheme. He has now lost his liberty and will forfeit millions in ill-gotten gains.”
According to the Indictment and statements made in court proceedings:
FINGER, and his co-conspirators, defrauded various lending institutions by using fictitious and fraudulent “straw identities” to apply for mortgage loans. FINGER was a real estate attorney who acted as the lender’s counsel on many of the fraudulent transactions. Though retained by the lenders to represent their interests at closings, FINGER disbursed fraudulently obtained mortgage proceeds to co-conspirators and lied to his clients about the fraudulent nature of the transactions. He also misrepresented the identities of the individuals who were actually receiving the loan proceeds, as well as the amounts they received. Through the scheme, FINGER and his co-conspirators were able to obtain more than $9 million in mortgage loans for the purchase of dozens of residential properties throughout the New York City metropolitan area and Long Island. Most of the loans quickly went into default.
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In addition to the prison term and forfeiture, Judge Buchwald sentenced FINGER, 47, of Mineola, New York, to 3 years of supervised release, and ordered him to pay a $200 special assessment fee.
Co-defendants Jeffrey Larochelle, Denise Parks, Frederick Warren, Joell Barnett, Foriduzzaman Sarder, Sakat Hossain, Mikael Huq, Fritz Bonaventure, Dorian Brown, and Reginald Johnson also previously pled guilty. Sarder was sentenced to 78 months in prison; Hossain was sentenced to 29 months in prison; Huq was sentenced to 42 months in prison; Parks was sentenced to time served; Warren was sentenced to 51 months in prison; Bonaventure was sentenced to three months in prison; Brown was sentenced to four months in prison; and Johnson was sentenced to 51 months in prison. Larochelle and Barnett await sentencing.
Criminal charges remain pending against Brandon Lisi. The charges against him are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the New York Attorney General’s Office, which led the investigation and has collaborated in the prosecution. He also thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York State Department of Financial Services for their assistance in this case.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael D. Lockard and Ryan P. Poscablo, and Assistant Attorney General Meryl Lutsky – who is designated as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in this case – are in charge of the prosecution.