News and Press Releases

Pittsburgh Man Sentenced For Mortgage Fraud Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2011

PITTSBURGH, Pa. ‑ A resident of Pittsburgh, Pa., has been sentenced in federal court to three years of probation and a $15,000 fine on his conviction of wire fraud conspiracy, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

United States District Judge Joy Flowers Conti imposed the sentence on Daniel O'Connor, 40.

According to information presented to the court, O'Connor and another individual operated a mortgage broker company called Financial Freedom Mortgage that assisted borrowers in obtaining loans collateralized by real estate.  O'Connor participated in a conspiracy to defraud lenders by submitting to the lenders appraisals knowing that the appraisals vastly overstated the true fair market values of real estate that served as collateral for the loans. The appraisals were prepared by Kenneth Cowden, who was not licensed to prepare appraisals, who has pleaded guilty to similar charges, and who is awaiting sentencing.  O'Connor submitted Cowden's appraisals under the name of licensed appraisers as if they had been prepared by the licensed appraisers.

Assistant United States Attorney Brendan T. Conway prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

U.S. Attorney Hickton commended the Mortgage Fraud task Force for conducting the investigation that led to the prosecution of O'Connor. The Mortgage Fraud Task Force is comprised of investigators from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and others involved in the mortgage industry.  Federal law enforcement agencies participating in the Mortgage Task Force include the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service‑Criminal Investigation; the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; the United States Postal Inspection Service; and the United States Secret Service.  Other Mortgage Fraud Task Force members include the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office; the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, Bureau of Consumer Protection; the Pennsylvania Department of Banking; the Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation; and the United States Trustee's Office.

Mortgage industry members with knowledge of fraudulent activity are encouraged to call the Mortgage Fraud Task Force at (412) 894‑7550. Consumers are encouraged to report suspected mortgage fraud by calling the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 441‑2555.

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