U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Massachusetts
(617) 748-3100
November 5, 2015

Dorchester Real Estate Broker Sentenced to Prison for Mortgage Fraud Scheme

BOSTON—A real-estate broker was sentenced today for conspiracy to defraud mortgage lenders of $4 million relating to more than two-dozen properties in Dorchester.

Joan Ruggiero, 78, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young to nine months in prison and nine months of home detention, and was ordered to pay a fine of $100,000 and restitution of $4.1 million to the lenders. In October 2013, Ruggiero pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy.

Ruggiero, who owned a real-estate business in Dorchester, and her co-conspirator identified buildings for sale in Dorchester that they could purchase and then convert into individual condominium units. After this conversion, Ruggiero and the co-conspirator recruited individuals to pose as purchasers of the condominiums, promising them that they were making a good investment. Ruggiero, who held herself out as a broker, and her co-conspirator actually owned the units. After she recruited the “buyers,” Ruggiero arranged for the submission of mortgage applications to various lenders, which contained false information about the “buyers’” income, assets, and intentions to live in the properties. The scheme also involved creating entirely fictitious documents, such as phony leases, bank documents, and verifications of employment. Relying on the false information provided, the lenders approved the mortgages and provided the required funds at the property closings. Ruggiero and her co-conspirator took those funds—over $4 million—and deposited them into their own accounts.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric P. Christofferson of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.

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