Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the indictment of two attorneys, an appraiser and two others for their roles in a mortgage fraud ring that operated for years and netted more than $1 million by preying upon first-time home buyers and institutional lenders.
The five defendants bilked consumers by advertising a rent-to-own opportunity in which first-time home buyers with low credit were offered the chance to own their own homes with no down payments and no closing costs.
The accused then took out fraudulent loans against those properties, conned lenders into believing they were paying off underlying mortgages, and then pocketed the money.
The 19-count indictment, unsealed yesterday in Onondaga County Court, charges attorney Theresa Sanders, a/k/a Theresa Hayes, 55, most recently of Westerville, Ohio, and mortgage loan processor Tracie Clark, 41, of Wimauma, Fla., with Residential Mortgage Fraud in the Second Degree, a class C felony; five counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, also class C felonies; three counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, class D felonies; two counts of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, class E felonies, and eight counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, also class E felonies.
Tuesday , Clark was the final defendant arraigned on the indictment in Onondaga County Court before the Honorable Judge Anthony F. Aloi. The other four defendants were arraigned last week. Judge Aloi set bail for Sanders at $250,000 cash/bond. Also charged in various counts of the indictment were attorney Michelle Powers, 51, of DeRuyter, and appraiser Steven Essig, 60, and Paul Sakowski, 44, both of Syracuse.
If convicted, the defendants face up to twenty years in prison.