Former West Hartford Attorney Sentenced to Prison for Role in Mortgage Fraud Scheme
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that GABRIEL SERRANO, 49, of West Hartford, was sentenced today by Judge Alvin W. Thompson to 12 months and one day of imprisonment, followed five years of supervised release, for his role in an extensive mortgage fraud scheme.
SERRANO, a former attorney, was a partner at the law firm of Serrano & Serrano, LLC in West Hartford until December 2013 when he was suspended from the bar.
According to court documents and statements made in court, from approximately June 2005 to at least November 2008, SERRANO was involved in a mortgage fraud conspiracy with co-defendants Filippos Milios, Malgorzata Karas-Golka, Carmelinda Marotta, Daniel Monteiro, and others that involved the use of straw borrowers, false mortgage applications, false HUD-1 forms, fraudulent down payments, and false verification forms for the purchase of over 50 houses in Hartford, New Haven, and Middlesex counties. SERRANO served as the closing attorney on at least two dozen fraudulent transactions.
SERRANO often served as the closing attorney when Milios purchased properties with financing from private lenders. Later, when Milios sold many of the properties to a buyer, SERRANO usually represented the buyer. In connection with many of the transactions where Milios sold properties, SERRANO knew that Milios, and not the borrower, had provided the required down payment checks on behalf of the borrower. SERRANO often released the seller’s proceeds checks to Milios before receiving a down payment, and he knew that Milios would use the seller’s proceeds checks to obtain the down payment check for the same transaction. In this way, contrary to what SERRANO led the mortgage lenders to believe, the borrowers were purchasing the properties with no down payment funds of their own.
In addition, some of the borrowers purchased multiple properties from Milios and represented to the mortgage lenders that they were purchasing each of the properties as primary residences. SERRANO knew that the borrowers did not intend to use the properties as primary residences.
In the course of many of the fraudulent closings involving Milios’s sale to borrowers, SERRANO received mortgage proceeds from banks and mortgage lenders. SERRANO would frequently disburse some of those proceeds to private lenders who had loaned Milios money to purchase those properties.
The loss attributable to SERRANO’s conduct is this scheme is approximately $3.5 million. The court will hold a subsequent hearing to determine restitution.
On August 6, 2013, SERRANO pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Milios, Karas-Golka, Marotta and Monteiro also pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison terms of 97 months, 30 months, 30 months and 13 months, respectively.
This matter was investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David T. Huang and William J. Nardini.