Morris County Attorney and Settlement Agent Admits Role in Reverse Mortgage Fraud Scheme
TRENTON, N.J. – A Morris County, New Jersey, man today admitted his role in a reverse mortgage fraud scheme that exploited several elderly homeowners, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Martin D. Eagan, 50, of Montville, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Eagan, principal of the Martin D. Eagan Law Firm, was an attorney licensed by the state of New Jersey with a practice in Morristown, New Jersey, that primarily focused on real estate transactions, such as loan originations, reverse mortgages and the refinancing of residential homes.
From 2007 through 2010, Eagan, acting as a settlement agent, was required to comply with instructions established by financial institutions that provided loan funds to borrowers. As part of the lending process, Eagan was required to generate and certify HUD-1 settlement statements that Eagan submitted to lenders. The HUD-1 settlement statement itemized the receipt and disbursement of all funds for each real estate closing. HUD-1 settlement statements were required to be approved by a lender before a settlement agent could disburse funds. The disbursement of funds had to mirror the representations made on the lender-approved HUD-1.
Eagan and his conspirators submitted fraudulent documentation to lenders to persuade lenders to approve and fund reverse mortgages and the refinancing of existing mortgages. Fraudulent documentation submitted included false HUD-1s that concealed from the lenders the fact that disbursements of loan proceeds went to conspirators, or entities the conspirators owned or controlled, and false appraisals that overstated the value of homes.
Eagan, his conspirators, and others controlled the loan application process from the time the homeowners applied for loans to the disbursement of loan funds, and ultimately through the diversion of loan proceeds to conspirators.
The conspiracy to commit bank fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for April 14, 2022.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, and special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert Manchak, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin Di Gregory and Charlie L. Divine of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General.