A lawyer that used to have offices in Union City and West New York was one of a dozen people indicted last week over charges of conspiring a $1 million mortgage fraud scheme that would’ve stolen money from lenders, Acting Attorney General John Jay Hoffman announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Andrys Sofia Gomez, 47, of Chatham, is alleged to have been the brains of the conspiracy, where she and her co-conspirators are accused of filing fraudulent mortgage applications, falsifying U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) forms, and diverted mortgage proceeds before laundering the funds through her attorney trust account, authorities said.
Gomez and her co-defendants are accused of purchasing three discounted homes – two in Paterson and one in East Rutherford – through “short sales,” which are pre-foreclosure sales where the mortgage holder agrees to permit the home to be sold for less than the amount due on the loan, officials said.
The defendants then allegedly used straw purchasers, who in turn sold each home at a much higher price to a co-onspirator or a buyer whose identity was used without full knowledge or authorization, according to the indictment.
In each case, money was borrowed for the higher-priced sale and the bank was not informed of the short sale, which occurred at about the same time.
Gomez is said to have handled all of the real estate closings and is accused of using the loan proceeds to pay off the short sale prices, keeping the remaining money as profits that were shared with her co-conspirators, authorities said.
In an attempt to conceal her identity in the fraudulent transactions, Gomez allegedly used the name of a male attorney on HUD settlement forms and receiving the loan proceeds in that attorney’s trust account, officials said.
According to court documents, she then laundered the money from that trust account into her own trust account.
Amedeo Gaglioti, the aforementioned lawyer in question, pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy to commit money laundering back on Sept. 17, 2012 for his involvement in the scheme. He is still awaiting sentencing.
The defendants allegedly stole a total of $925,138, which is the total of the loan proceeds obtained through the three fraudulent mortgage applications. Subtracting the amounts used to pay off the short sale prices, the defendants allegedly made an illicit profit of more than $610,000, authorities said.
“Mortgage lenders rely on the attorneys and other licensed professionals who handle real estate closings to act with integrity, but this attorney allegedly betrayed her oath and conspired with her co-defendants to steal nearly $1 million in loan proceeds,” Hoffman said in a statement.
“This type of fraud undermines security in the mortgage market and ultimately increases the cost of loans for honest, hardworking home buyers. We will make these offenders pay for their crimes.”
Gomez and her 11 co-defendants allegedly defrauded lenders in connection with three loans totaling $925,138.77: (1) a $402,903.70 loan for a home at 21 Jersey Street in East Rutherford, which was purchased in a short sale for $207,507; (2) a $274,274.40 loan for a home at 71-73 Putnam Street in Paterson, which was purchased in a short sale for $54,680; and (3) a $247,960,67 loan for a home at 496 Summer Street in Paterson, which was purchased in a short sale for $52,276.11.
The following 11 co-defendants were charged along with Gomez in all three counts of the indictment:
Pascual E. Aquasvivas, 46, of Bloomfield,
Luis Percy, 45, of East Rutherford,
Maria Percy, 38, (wife of Luis Percy) of East Rutherford,
Fausto Codio, 43, of Paterson,
Jose Vasquez, 46, of Paterson,
Jorge Romero, 36, of Passaic,
Keila Sosa, 35, of Passaic,
Frank Luciano, 48, of Wayne,
Jennifer Ramirez, 39, of Wayne,
Ramon Ramirez, 46, (husband of Jennifer Ramirez) of Wayne, and
Francel Martinez, 35, of Passaic.