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West Hartford Attorney Pleads Guilty to Participating in Mortgage Fraud and Money Laundering Conspiracies

U.S. Attorney’s Office August 06, 2013
  • District of Connecticut (203) 821-3700

Deirdre M. Daly, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that GABRIEL SERRANO, 47, of West Hartford, waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty today before United States Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez in Hartford to conspiracy charges stemming from his role in an extensive mortgage fraud scheme. SERRANO, an attorney, is a partner in the law firm of Serrano & Serrano, LLC.

According to court documents and statements made in court, from approximately June 2005 to at least November 2008, SERRANO was involved in a mortgage fraud conspiracy that involved the use of straw borrowers, false mortgage applications, false HUD-1 forms, fraudulent down payments, and false verification forms for the purchase of numerous houses in Hartford, New Haven, and Middlesex Counties. SERRANO served as the closing attorney on at least two dozen fraudulent transactions.

SERRANO often served as the closing attorney when a co-conspirator purchased properties with financing from private lenders. Later, when SERRANO’s co-conspirator sold many of the properties to a buyer, SERRANO usually represented the buyer. In connection with many of the transactions where SERRANO’s co-conspirator sold properties, SERRANO knew that his co-conspirator, and not the borrower, had provided the required down payment checks on behalf of the borrower. SERRANO often released the seller’s proceeds checks to his co-conspirator before receiving a down payment, and he knew that his co-conspirator would use the seller’s proceeds checks to obtain the down payment check for the same transaction. In this way, contrary to what SERRANO led the mortgage lenders to believe, the borrowers were purchasing the properties with no down payment funds of their own.

In addition, some of the borrowers purchased multiple properties from SERRANO’s co-conspirator and represented to the mortgage lenders that they were purchasing each of the properties as primary residences. SERRANO knew that the borrowers did not intend to use the properties as primary residences.

In the course of many of the fraudulent closings involving his co-conspirator’s sale to borrowers, SERRANO received mortgage proceeds from banks and mortgage lenders. SERRANO would frequently disburse some of those proceeds to private lenders who had loaned his co-conspirator money to purchase those properties.

SERRANO has agreed that the loss attributable to his conduct is approximately $3.5 million.

SERRANO pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud, a charge that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, a charge that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Chief United States District Judge Alvin W. Thompson on October 29, 2013.

This case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David T. Huang and Paul H. McConnell.