Natick Attorney Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charges
BOSTON – A real estate developer and attorney pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Worcester in connection with a $2.3 million fraud scheme relating to the redevelopment of a multi-family property in Worcester.
James E. Levin, 61, of Natick, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States and false claims. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman scheduled sentencing for Feb. 9, 2021. Levin was charged in August 2016.
From July 2010 to September 2011, Levin, as the manager of 5 May Street Apartments, LLC, applied for and obtained federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), through the City of Worcester, to rehabilitate a multi-unit apartment building at 5 May Street in Worcester. Since the City of Worcester distributes grant funds on behalf of HUD and Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Levin submitted seven payment requests to the City for work he fraudulently claimed he completed on the building and associated costs. In the course of her job with the City of Worcester’s Housing Development Office, Levin’s co-defendant, Jacklyn Sutcivni, allegedly approved the payment requests submitted by Levin, although she knew the requests were fraudulent. It is alleged that this caused the City of Worcester to pay approximately $2,365,050 to Levin. After the City issued the payment, Sutcivni or other City officials submitted reimbursement requests to HUD or DHCD for HUD funds.
Sutcivni has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial on May 3, 2021.
The charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud each provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $1 million, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of submission of false claims provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The indictment also seeks monetary forfeiture in the amount of $2,365,050. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, Northeast Regional Office; and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle L. Dineen Jerrett of Lelling’s Springfield Branch Office is prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The remaining defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.