Warren County, New Jersey, Construction Business Owner Admits Concealing Multi-Million Dollar Mortgage Fraud Scheme
NEWARK, N.J. – A Belvidere, New Jersey, man today admitted he concealed a mortgage fraud scheme carried out by his wife, a former real estate title agent, in which they obtained seven loans, totaling more than $3.7 million, on two properties located in Belvidere and Wood-Ridge, New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Zbigniew Cichy, 45, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler to a superseding information charging him with one count of misprision of felony.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Cichy owned and operated Global Builders LLC, a construction company. His wife, Ania Nowak, 48, also of Belvidere, was the owner and operator of A.N. Title Agency LLC and was an agent for Stewart Title Guaranty Company.
Nowak obtained seven mortgage loans through fraudulent means, including: an April 2005 loan for her sham sale of the Wood-Ridge property to Cichy; Cichy’s November 2005 refinancing loan on the Wood-Ridge property; a 2005 construction loan to build a house on the Belvidere property owned by Cichy; Cichy’s August 2006 loan on the Belvidere property; May 2007 loans for Cichy’s sham sale of the Belvidere property to another conspirator in the scheme, Kim Salvemini, 60, of Wallington, New Jersey; Salvemini’s May 2007 refinancing loan on the Belvidere property; and Cichy’s November 2007 refinancing loan on the Belvidere property. Nowak admitted that, for each of the seven loans, she lied on loan documents, failed to pay off prior mortgages at closing, failed to record the mortgages and any deeds and that most of the loans went into default for non-payment.
Cichy admitted that although he was aware of the mortgage fraud scheme, including Nowak’s failure to pay off existing liens at closing, he failed to report the fraudulent mortgage transactions to authorities. Instead, Cichy took steps to conceal the scheme by making mortgage payments on a number of the fraudulent loans out of his personal and business accounts to prevent foreclosure and thereby conceal from lenders that the loans had been obtained through fraud. Cichy also admitted to lying on certain loan documents that were used in furtherance of the scheme.
The charge of misprision of felony to which Cichy pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for May 5, 2015.
Nowak pleaded guilty on Jan. 15, 2015, and is also scheduled to be sentenced May 5, 2015. Salvemini previously pleaded guilty to her role in the scheme and awaits sentencing.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shirley U. Emehelu and Senior Litigation Counsel Leslie F. Schwartz of the Economic Crimes Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.
Today’s guilty plea is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorney’s offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
Defense counsel: Carl J. Herman Esq., West Orange, New Jersey