Former Talbot County Attorney Pleads Guilty to Real Estate Investment Fraud Scheme with Over $768,000 in Losses
BALTIMORE, MD—Aaron G. Seltzer, age 38, of Trappe, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud in connection with a scheme in which he converted funds intended for real estate investments to his personal use.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to his plea agreement and court documents, Seltzer was a licensed Maryland attorney who handled real estate transactions and maintained an office in Crofton, Maryland. From January 2008, through 2010, Seltzer offered victims fraudulent investment opportunities then diverted the money intended for the investments for his own benefit. Seltzer obtained a total of $768,242 through seven fraudulent transactions. As part of his plea agreement, Seltzer is required to pay restitution in that amount.
For example, Seltzer offered to sell an investor 45 percent of an Anne Arundel County real estate company, claiming that he owned 100% of the stock, assets and liabilities of the company, when in fact, he did not. The investor sent a total of $92,000 to Seltzer, which Seltzer used for his own benefit. During the summer of 2009, Seltzer contacted a lawyer in New York and represented that a client of Seltzer’s was seeking a business loan. Seltzer proposed that the loan be secured by a mortgage on three commercial properties located in Virginia, purportedly owned by Seltzer’s client. The New York attorney assembled a group of investors to fund the loan. Seltzer presented the attorney with a fraudulent promissory note, which Seltzer falsely claimed was signed by a representative of his client. Seltzer further falsely represented that he had conducted the closing for the loan and presented the attorney with fabricated closing documents. On behalf of the investors, the attorney wired Seltzer $497,527 to fund the loan, which Seltzer diverted to his own benefit.
Seltzer was investigated by the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission for his conduct in the scheme and was subsequently disbarred.
Seltzer faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for wire fraud. U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz has scheduled Seltzer’s sentencing for April 10, 2015, at 10:00 a.m.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised HSI Baltimore, and the FBI and for their work in the investigation and recognized the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission and Bar Counsel Glenn Grossman for their assistance. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo J. Wise, who is prosecuting the case.