Litchfield Resident Pleads Guilty to Multiple Fraud Conspiracies
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Patricia Ferrick, Special Agent In Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and William Offord, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation announced that RYAN GEDDES, 43, of Litchfield, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven to multiple conspiracies involving a series of real estate transactions intended to shield assets from creditors.
According to court documents and statements made in court, GEDDES had accrued a series of debts as of late 2005, and was the subject of various lawsuits and collection efforts for the next several years. A bank fraud conspiracy commenced in November 2005 when GEDDES sold a lakefront home located at 27 Palmer Road in Morris to Thomas Provenzano. Lacking the funds to qualify for the $923,000 mortgage, Provenzano nonetheless obtained the loan based on an application that falsely listed his income as $20,000 per month, or $240,000 annually, and falsely listed his employment as the Operations Manager for one of GEDDES’s construction companies. Provenzano was not employed at all by GEDDES. The loan application also listed GEDDES’s company as having verified Provenzano’s employment. In November 2006, Provenzano refinanced the loan, obtaining a $936,000 mortgage from a federally insured bank. The new loan application, like the prior one, falsely listed Provenzano as employed by GEDDES’s construction company, and falsely listed his monthly income as $28,000, or $336,000 annually. The application again listed GEDDES’s company as having verified Provenzano’s employment. The loan is now in default, and the 27 Palmer Road property is in foreclosure.
The first of two mail and wire fraud conspiracies commenced in December 2009 and January 2010, in a series of discussions among GEDDES, Provenzano, and others about how to defraud a title insurance company. The discussions focused on conducting a real property transfer based on a deliberately defective title search, in which liens against the property are omitted, and title insurance is obtained based on the defective title search report. Later, a fraudulent claim is lodged against the title insurer. The conspirators decided to attempt the scheme on a property controlled by GEDDES, located at 66 Donahue Road Extension in Litchfield. After Provenzano assisted in a title search, GEDDES personally reviewed the report and crossed off several liens to be omitted from the title insurance application. In March 2010 GEDDES arranged a straw transfer of the property to another individual, while continuing to reside in and pay the mortgage and expenses on the property. Title insurance was issued on the property, with five liens, totaling about $990,000, deliberately omitted from the title search report.
The second of two mail and wire fraud conspiracies commenced in May 2009 when GEDDES arranged to transfer another property of his, located in Old Forge, N.Y., to Dustin Whitten. GEDDES continued to use the property and pay the mortgage and maintenance expenses. In March 2011, GEDDES and Whitten arranged to obtain a home insurance policy on the New York property in Whitten’s name. On July 4, 2011, after a bankruptcy court meeting about seeking to compensate GEDDES’s creditors, the New York property was destroyed in a fire. In September 2011, Whitten swore out an insurance claim on the property, representing himself as the owner and seeking compensation in the respective amounts of $515,038.50 for the destroyed structure and $92,974.47 for personal property allegedly lost in the fire. The claim was eventually denied by the insurance company. In pleading guilty, GEDDES admitted that the purpose of the scheme was to shield the insurance proceeds from his creditors.
GEDDES pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Judge Arterton scheduled sentencing for July 21, 2015, at which time GEDDES faces maximum term of imprisonment of 70 years and a fine of up to $1.5 million.
Provenzano and Whitten previously pleaded guilty. On December 1, 2014, Provenzano was sentenced to 18 month of imprisonment. Whitten awaits sentencing.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Henry Kopel and Michael Gustafson.