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East Rutherford couple charged with profiting from $1M mortgage scam

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: An East Rutherford couple conspired with an attorney who had offices in Hudson County in a $1 million mortgage fraud scheme, an indictment handed up by a state grand jury today charges.

Luis Percy, 45, and his 38-year-old wife, Maria, articipated in a short-sale scheme concocted by Andrys Sofia Gomez, 47, of Chatham that employed straw buyers to flip a home in East Rutherford and two in Paterson for a much higher price by using an accomplice or the identity of an unwitting buyer.

“In each case, money was borrowed for the higher-priced sale and the bank was not informed of the short sale, which occurred at about the same time,” Acting State Attorney General John J. Hoffman said.

Gomez, who had offices in West New York and Union City, led the conspiracy, enlisting co-conspirators to help her file fraudulent mortgage applications, falsify HUD settlement forms and diverte mortgage proceeds that she laundered through her attorney trust account, the indictment obtained by the state Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau alleges.

“Gomez, who handled all of the real estate closings, allegedly used the loan proceeds to pay off the short sale prices and kept the remaining money as profit, sharing the stolen loan proceeds with her co-conspirators,” Hoffman said.

“To conceal her involvement in the fraudulent transactions, Gomez posed as another lawyer, using his name on HUD settlement forms and receiving the loan proceeds into his attorney trust account,” he added. “She then allegedly laundered the money from his trust account through her own attorney trust account.”

That lawyer, Amedeo Gaglioti, pleaded guilty on Sept. 17, 2012 to second-degree conspiracy to commit money laundering for assisting Gomez in the scheme. He is awaiting sentencing.

The East Rutherford home at 21 Jersey Street was bought for $207,507 in a short sale, the indictment says. The defendants then obtained a $402,903.70 loan on it, it says.

Subtracting from the $925,138 in fraudulently-obtained loan proceeds, the 11 defendant raked in more than $610,000 in ill-gotten gains, authorities said.

“Mortgage lenders rely on the attorneys and other licensed professionals who handle real estate closings to act with integrity,” Hoffman said. “This attorney allegedly betrayed her oath and conspired with her co-defendants to steal nearly $1 million in loan proceeds.

“This type of fraud undermines security in the mortgage market and ultimately increases the cost of loans for honest, hardworking home buyers. We will make these offenders pay for their crimes.”

“With so much money on the table, con artists have a big incentive to target mortgage loans and real estate closings with their criminal schemes,” said state DCJ Director Elie Honig. “We create a big disincentive for such schemes through prosecutions such as this one, where the defendants face potential sentences of up to 20 years in prison.”

The other defendants:

Pascual E. Aquasvivas, 46, of Bloomfield,
Fausto Codio, 43, of Paterson,
Jose Vasquez, 46, of Paterson,
Jorge Romero, 36, of Passaic,
Keila Sosa, 35, of Passaic,
Frank Luciano, 48, of Wayne,
Jennifer Ramirez, 39, of Wayne,
Ramon Ramirez, 46, (husband of Jennifer Ramirez) of Wayne, and
Francel Martinez, 35, of Passaic.

Deputy Attorneys General Jillian Carpenter and Mary E. McAnally presented the case to the state grand. Detective Anne Hayes, former Detective Joshua Mathewson, retired Lt. James MacInnes, and Analysts Alison Callery, Rita Gillis and Amy Patterson handled the case.

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