Bergen County Man Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Short Sale Fraud Scheme
NEWARK, N.J. – A Bergen County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for his role in a multi-year scheme to defraud financial institutions and others, Rahul Agarwal, Attorney for the United States in this matter, announced.
Steve Young Kang, aka “Steven Young Kang” and “Young Tae Kang,” 66, of Ridgefield, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini to an information charging him with one count of bank fraud and one count of wire fraud. Judge Martini imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Kang and others fraudulently induced mortgage lenders to participate in “short sale” transactions, in which, typically, a financial institution agrees to allow a homeowner in financial distress to sell his or her home for less than the homeowner owes on the mortgage. Such transactions are called short sales because the market value of the house is less than the amount owed by the homeowner and the lender agrees to accept a payment “short” of the amount owed by the owner.
From June 2013 to January 2017, Kang, who owned and controlled two real estate brokerages, sold his own properties and recruited others to sell properties in fraudulent short sales to a co-schemer, Mehdi Kassai. The co-schemers convinced financial institutions to agree to short sales and to accept less than the properties were worth through false documents, straw buyers, and cosmetic damage to properties. Kang, as a listing broker, also prevented legitimate and higher offers from being made by artificially limiting the ability of others to bid on and buy properties. Kassai then sold the properties to third-parties at a substantial profit. Kang defrauded financial institutions and others of at least $2.7 million.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Martini sentenced Kang to three years of supervised release and ordered him to forfeit $835,248 in proceeds of the scheme. Restitution will be determined at a later date.
Attorney for the United States Agarwal credited special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert Manchak, special agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina, and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Mark Musella, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.
The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charlie L. Divine and Kevin V. Di Gregory of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General.