Former Newspaper Publisher, Mortgage Broker, Mortgage Lender and Real Estate Agent Convicted in $20 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme
A federal jury convicted a former Miami newspaper publisher, mortgage broker, mortgage lender and real estate agent after a three-week trial for leading a $20 million mortgage fraud scheme.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
Marco Laureti, 46, of Sunny Isles Beach, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349 and seven counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343 (Case No. 16-60340-CR-Bloom(s)(Cohn)). Senior U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn presided over the trial. The defendant’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 25, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. At sentencing, the defendant faces up to thirty years’ imprisonment on each count, a $250,000 fine as to each count and restitution.
Felix Mostelac, 45, of Miami, Michelle Cabrera, 49, of Miami Lakes, Pedro Melian, 40, of Hialeah, were also charged in the scheme. Cabrera and Melian previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and will be sentenced on November 17, 2017 by U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas (Case No. 16-60354-CR-Dimitrouleas). Mostelac is a fugitive at large and is believed to be living outside the United States.
According to evidence presented at trial, defendants Laureti, Mostelac, Cabrera and Melian were involved in a $20 million mortgage fraud scheme. Laureti was a former newspaper publisher and owner of Laureti Publishing Company and multiple companies, including Northview Equities LLC, Northview Real Estate LLC, Northview Capital LLC, Laureti Holdings Company, Laureti Media Group, Inc., ReTrade, Inc., and M4 Management LLC, in addition to being a licensed Florida real estate agent and formerly licensed Florida mortgage broker. Mostelac was Laureti’s associate and also the owner of several companies, including Mostelac Enterprises, Inc. and American Holdings Group. Cabrera owned Florida Elite Title & Escrow and served as the closing agent for these transactions. Melian also owned several companies, including Melian’s Investment Group.
At trial, the Government presented evidence that the defendants engaged in a fraud scheme involving a condominium complex located at 45 Hendricks Isle in Fort Lauderdale. Defendants Laureti, Mostelac, Melian and other co-conspirators made false and fraudulent statements to a financial institution on mortgage loan applications, including grossly inflating income and bank account balances. These defendants also made fraudulent representations on the closing statements for these multi-million dollar condominiums. Once these loans were approved, defendant Cabrera, at Laureti’s direction, diverted the loan proceeds to fund the cash the borrower was expected to bring to the property’s closing, as well as diverting additional monies from the loan proceeds to various companies owned by Laureti and Mostelac. The evidence showed Cabrera was paid $10,000 for each fraudulent transaction initiated by Laureti and Mostelac. Furthermore, Laureti and Mostelac utilized the same scheme on the mortgage loan applications and closing statements to purchase their own multi-million dollar residential properties in Miami Beach, including Laureti’s $6.9 million home and Mostelac’s $6.5 million dollar condominium. The defendants’ scheme defrauded the financial institution of approximately $20 million in disbursed mortgage loans.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Randy Katz and Karen O. Stewart.