May 28, 2024
Loans

CT Landlords obtained $50M in fraudulent mortgage loans


A New York man was fined more than $1 million and another has been imprisoned for orchestrating an elaborate fraud they used to acquire $50 million in mortgage loans and build an extensive residential real estate portfolio across Hartford.

Federal prosecutors said the “sheer volume of false documents and material misrepresentations’’ concocted to deceive lenders in the scheme involving cousins Jacob and Aron Deutsch “is staggering.”

Jacob Deutsch, 58, of Brooklyn was sentenced this week to five years in prison and fined $10,000 in U.S. District Court. Aron Deutsch, 63, of Monsey was fined $1 million and put on probation for five years.

Under their guilty pleas to federal fraud charges, the two men admitted to a scheme in which they acquired 17 multi-family housing complexes across the city between 2016 and 2021 by creating hundreds of phony financial documents to obtain 24 separate mortgages.

Among other things, Jacob Deutsch admitted creating an elaborate ruse that convinced lenders that a empty, 24-unit apartment complex the cousins succeeded in buying at 16 Evergreen Ave. was not only fully occupied, but was occupied by tenants paying inflated rents. The properties ran from Washington Street south of downtown, through the West End and onto Asylum Hill.

“All told, he fraudulently induced numerous victim financial institutions to finance the purchase of assets from which he is now profiting, fraudulently procuring 24 mortgage loans totaling nearly $50 million dollars, and shifting the risk of catastrophic loss onto the victim financial institutions and the secondary markets on which they rely,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said of Jacob Deutsch in a court filing.

Because of the stability of the Hartford retail market over the period of the conspiracy, prosecutors said lenders — four banks and secondary mortgage market players like Fannie Mae — suffered no significant losses.

After realizing they would be prosecuted, the cousins, who operated B H Property Management on Wethersfield Avenue, claimed they were able to sell off the properties at break-even prices, meaning there was no loss to lenders. Federal prosecutors claimed the lenders lost about $3.5 million on $50 million in loans.

The mortgage fraud conspiracy unraveled when federal housing authorities decided that the mortgage application and due diligence materials associated with the 16 Evergreen Ave. purchase were “wildly false,” prosecutors said.

Among other things, the loan application for 16 Evergreen to the lender CBRE Capital Markets contained a rent roll showing gross yearly rental income of $280,000 when, in reality, the complex was empty.

To support the phony application, prosecutors said Jacob Deutsch admitted creating an elaborate — but phony — list of tenants, accompanied with their forged signatures on phony leases and fake moving in dates. He then hired a company to “stage” empty apartments with furniture, clothing and other furnishings before making them available for inspection by the lender.

When the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, to which CBRE planned to sell the loan, wanted additional proof of occupancy, prosecutors said Jacob Deutsch arranged for an employee to collect dozens of electric utility bills, doctor them to correspond with names on the fake rent roll and send them to CBRE. He was accused of doing the same thing with natural gas bills.

Jacob Deutsch next fabricated a banking record that purported to show deposits to his company’s Evergreen Avenue rent account, complete with copies of money orders, cashier’s checks and stamped envelopes. Prosecutors said Aron Deutsch purchased the cashier’s checks.

Later, the cousins decided to refinance 16 Evergreen Ave. with a new lender and reconciled the new loan application with the phony records associated with the first one.

Similar kinds of frauds were associated with loans for other properties around the city.

Prosecutors said Jacob Deutsch falsely inflated the occupancy rate of another of the partnership’s buildings, at 12 Willard Street, by listing employees as tenants — without their knowledge.

The partnership also lied to lenders about improvements to properties. It created invoices showing $526,000 in improvement at 1650-1680 Broad St., when actual work involved only the installation of a $38,000 boiler system, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the cousins used the fraudulent loan proceeds to acquire new buildings and make improvements to those previously acquired.



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