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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Four Facing Charges In Multi-Faceted Mortgage Fraud Conspiracy

PITTSBURGH - A resident of Verona, Pennsylvania and three residents of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud, filing false tax returns, and failing to file tax returns, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

The 20-count superseding indictment, returned on March 26, 2013, named George Kubini, 48, of Verona, Pa.; Dov Ratchkauskas, 46, of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Sandra Svaranovic, 52, of Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Arthur Smith, 63, of Pittsburgh, Pa.

According to the superseding indictment presented to the Court, Kubini, Ratchklauskas, Svaranovic, Smith, and a number of other individuals who have already pleaded guilty, participated in a multi-faceted mortgage fraud conspiracy involving hundreds of properties and tens of millions of dollars worth of fraudulent loans.

Kubini and Ratchkauskas operated businesses that purchased and sold real estate. The superseding indictment alleges that Kubini and Ratchkauskas sold properties financed through a complex mortgage fraud scheme and that they executed settlement statements that they then knew were fraudulent. The superseding indictment also alleged that Kubini and Ratchkauskas made false representations to borrowers about making improvements to the properties.

Other members of the alleged conspiracy who already pleaded guilty included Robert Arakelian, who operated a mortgage broker business called Pittsburgh Home Loans, and Rhonda and Rochelle Roscoe, who operated another mortgage broker business called Riverside Mortgage. The superseding indictment alleges that Arakelian and Rhonda and Rochelle Roscoe, in furtherance of the conspiracy, submitted loan applications to lenders that falsely represented that the borrowers were intending to make payments at the time of the closings related to the purchase of the properties and that they had sufficient assets to make those payments from their own funds. This false representation was corroborated by Verification of Deposits that falsely represented that the borrowers had sufficient money in their bank accounts to make the payments at the closings.

Other members of the conspiracy included Bartholomew Matto, Cynthia Pielin, and Crystal Spreng, who all worked at financial institutions and all pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. Their role was to sign the fraudulent Verifications of Deposit that falsely represented that the borrowers had sufficient funds in their accounts to make the payments at the closings.

The conspiracy also involved fraudulent settlement statements that overstated the true sales prices of the properties and falsely represented that the purchases of the properties made substantial payments in connection with the purchase of the properties. Daniel Sporrer was and attorney who executed some of these fraudulent settlement statements and Karen Atkison was an assistant for Sporrer. Sporrer and Atkison all pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. The superseding indictment alleges that Smith, who is an attorney specializing in closing real estate transactions, similarly participated in the conspiracy by executing fraudulent settlement statements, by fraudulent withdrawing money from his trust account, and by making misrepresentations to a title insurance company.

In addition, the conspiracy involved appraisers who made false representations about the properties serving as collateral for the loans. The superseding indictment alleges that Svaranovic, as part of the conspiracy, prepared fraudulent appraisals that falsely represented the conditions of the properties serving as collateral for the loans and overstated the fair market values of those properties.

The superseding indictment also alleges that Kubini filed false income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service that understated his Adjusted Gross Income, and that Smith failed to file his tax returns for the calender years 2007 through 2009 despite earning sufficient income to trigger his legal obligation to file his income tax returns.

Assistant United States Attorney Brendan T. Conway is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Mortgage Fraud Task Force conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case. The Mortgage Fraud Task Force is comprised of investigators from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and others involved in the mortgage industry. Federal law enforcement agencies participating in the Mortgage Task Force include the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations; the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; the United States Postal Inspection Service; and the United States Secret Service. Other Mortgage Fraud Task Force members include the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office; the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, Bureau of Consumer Protection; the Pennsylvania Department of Banking; the Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation; and the United States Trustee's Office.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated July 14, 2015