Former Loan Officer Admits Role in Mortgage Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 22, 2014|
NEWARK NJ—A Middlesex County, New Jersey man today admitted his role in a large-scale mortgage fraud scheme that caused millions of dollars in losses, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Delio Coutinho, 71, of Colonia, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton in Newark federal court to an information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From March 2008 through June 2012, Coutinho and his co-defendants conspired with each other and others to release liens on encumbered properties via fraudulently arranged short sale transactions. This allowed Coutinho and his co-defendants to profit from new fraudulent mortgage loans obtained on the properties from other mortgage lenders. To complete the short sale transactions, Coutinho and his co-defendants submitted materially false closing and other documents to mortgage lenders. They submitted fraudulent mortgage loan applications to lenders to obtain new loans on properties in and around Elizabeth, New Jersey, including a property on Fulton Street.
Coutinho was a loan officer at a northern New Jersey mortgage brokerage company, and he submitted false documents in support of the schemes. Co-defendants included Jose Luis Salguero Bedoya, 37, of Elizabeth, a real estate investor who, along with his girlfriend, Yazmin Soto-Cruz, 33, of Elizabeth, provided much of the funds used by the defendants to perpetuate their fraudulent schemes. Christopher Ju, 28, of Edison, New Jersey, negotiated the fraudulent short sale real estate transactions. In all, Coutinho and the others obtained approximately $2 million in illegal mortgage proceeds.
The conspiracy count to which Coutinho pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited the FBI Newark Mortgage Fraud Task Force, which includes special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford; postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates; special agents of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Region of Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi; special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Inspector General Michael P. Stephens; special agents of the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), under the direction of Special Inspector General Christy L. Romero; special agents of IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Gaetano Gregory, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lakshmi Srinivasan Herman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark, and Charlton A. Rugg of the Narcotics/OCDETF Unit.
Today’s guilty plea is part of efforts 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. attorney’s offices and state and local partners, it is 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.