Belleville Man Admits Role in $15 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme
CAMDEN, NJ—An Essex County, New Jersey, man today admitted conspiring to defraud financial institutions as part of a $15 million mortgage fraud scheme that used phony documents and “straw buyers” to make illegal profits on overbuilt condos, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Larry Fullenwider, 63, of Belleville, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Simandle in Camden federal court to a second superseding indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Using the alias “Stanley Hyde,” Fullenwider admitted purchasing four condominiums in North Wildwood, New Jersey, after presenting a false identification and using fake documents to support fraudulent loan applications.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Fullenwider was among 11 defendants charged in July 2012 with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Two additional defendants, Nicholas Tarsia, 65, of Totowa, New Jersey, and Mashon Onque, 43, of East Orange, New Jersey, were charged in November 2013 with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Tarsia was also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Fullenwider’s conspirators, including Timothy Ricks, 46, of East Orange, and Kinard Henson of Ventres, Alabama, who both pleaded guilty before Judge Simandle—Ricks in February 2013 and Henson in February 2014—located oceanfront condominiums overbuilt by financially distressed developers and negotiated a buyout price with the sellers. They then caused the sales prices for the properties—located in Wildwood Crest and North Wildwood, New Jersey, other locations in New Jersey and in Naples, Florida—to be much higher than the buyout price to ensure large proceeds. Other defendants helped conceal the true sales prices of certain properties through inflated sales contracts and sale and finder’s fee agreements.
Fullenwider served as a “straw buyer” and purchased four North Wildwood properties at the inflated rates in late January and early February of 2007. Fullenwider used the alias “Stanley Hyde” and a false Social Security number to purchase the properties. In order to qualify for mortgage loans, Fullenwider and his conspirators created false documents, such as fake W-2 forms, pay stubs, bank statements and investment statements, to make him (and other straw buyers) appear more creditworthy.
Fullenwider and his conspirators caused fraudulent mortgage loan applications in his name, including the supporting documents, to be submitted to mortgage brokers that the brokers knew were false. Once the loans were approved and the mortgage lenders sent the loan proceeds in connection with real estate closings, Fullenwider received a portion of the proceeds from his conspirators after they had funds wired or checks deposited into various accounts they controlled. Fullenwider’s conspirators also distributed a portion of the proceeds to other members of the conspiracy for their respective roles.
The wire fraud conspiracy charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan 20, 2015.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark; and IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen in Newark, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew T. Smith and Jacqueline M. Carle of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.