Home New Haven Press Releases 2014 Long Island Couple Involved in Decade-Long Mortgage Fraud Scheme in Bridgeport Sentenced to Prison

Long Island Couple Involved in Decade-Long Mortgage Fraud Scheme in Bridgeport Sentenced to Prison

U.S. Attorney’s Office January 28, 2014
  • District of Connecticut (203) 821-3700

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Winston Shillingford, 56, and his wife, Marleen Shillingford, 47, of Nesconset, New York, were sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford to prison terms of 48 months and 36 months, respectively, for operating a multi-million-dollar mortgage fraud scheme that involved more than 40 properties in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Both defendants will serve three years of supervised upon their release from prison.

According to court documents and statements made in court, the Shillingfords were involved in the operation of Waikele Properties Corp., a real estate company with offices in Bridgeport and Garden City, New York. From approximately 2001 to August 2011, the Shillingfords, Robert Ilunga, and others conspired to obtain fraudulent mortgages for the purchase of more than 40 multi-family properties in Bridgeport. As part of the scheme, the Shillingfords and their co-conspirators purchased existing multi-family houses and vacant parcels of land and erected new houses on them to sell. The co-conspirators recruited individuals to purchase the properties, acted as the buyers’ real estate agent, and assisted the buyers in applying for residential mortgage loans to purchase the houses. The co-conspirators then prepared loan applications for the buyers that included fraudulent information concerning, among other things, the buyers’ employment, income, assets, and liabilities; previous property ownership; and intention to make the properties their primary residences. The co-conspirators also provided fraudulent supporting documentation with the loan applications, including false letters from fictitious employers, false earnings statements, and fraudulent bank records.

After the loans were approved, the illicit proceeds of the scheme were wired into the Waikele Properties bank account and then transferred to members of the conspiracy. Some of the proceeds also were used to continue the mortgage fraud scheme.

Contrary to the representations made on the loan applications, several straw purchasers never occupied the houses as their primary residences and subsequently defaulted on the loans.

The parties have agreed that victim financial institutions suffered losses of between $2.5 million and $7 million as a result of this scheme. A restitution order will be issued after further court proceedings.

In October 2011, Winston and Marleen Shillingford each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Robert Ilunga, of Naugatuck, pleaded guilty to the same charges and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 31.

This investigation is being conducted by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General, and the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP).

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Douglas P. Morabito and David T. Huang.