New York City Man Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft
Jason Safford Applied for Mortgage Loans with Falsified Appraisals and Bank Statements
SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Jason Safford, 45, of Queens, New York, pled guilty today in federal court in Utica to bank fraud, attempted wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft, announced Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon and Thomas F. Relford, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
As part of his guilty plea, Safford admitted that he applied for a mortgage refinance loan in October 2016 on behalf of Safflyn Green Industries, Inc., a company in which Safford had an ownership interest. In support of that loan application, Safford submitted false bank statements, false deposit verification documentation, and a false appraisal for the property at issue, which is located at 350 Galina Lane in Mohawk, New York, and is commonly referred to as the “Gelston Estate.” RS Lending, a financial institution then operation in San Francisco, approved the loan application and funded it for more than $1.3 million in December 2016. The loan is now in default status, and nearly $1.2 million remains outstanding.
Safford also admitted in his guilty plea that in 2018 he applied for a $2 million mortgage refinance loan for the Gelston Estate. Once again, Safford created and submitted false bank statements and a falsified appraisal in support of this loan application. When questioned about the appraisal by the brokerage firm processing the application, Safford obtained a letter from a licensed appraiser confirming that the appraiser had appraised property located at 980 Robinson Road in Mohawk, New York—which is next to the Gelston Estate—for $325,000 on September 16, 2014. Safford modified and forged this letter to say, falsely, that the appraiser had appraised the property located at 350 Galina Lane on January 31, 2018, for $2,448,500.00, and Safford sent the falsified letter to the brokerage firm, along with modified and falsified copies of the appraiser’s license and professional liability coverage information. This loan was never funded.
Finally, Safford admitted that he assisted in obtaining investments from multiple investors to develop the Gelston Estate and 980 Robinson Road properties and that the investors’ money was not all used to develop the properties. As part of his guilty plea, Safford agreed to pay restitution to four individual investors in the total amount of $146,426.57, in addition to agreeing to pay restitution in the amount of $1,175,869.40 to the company who purchased RS Lending when it went out of business.
Sentencing is scheduled for February 23, 2021 before United States District Judge David N. Hurd, who presides over the case. Safford faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years in prison, and a potential maximum sentence of 30 years. Safford also faces up to 5 years of supervised release and fines totaling up to $1.25 million. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statutes the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and it is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael F. Perry.