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Bergen broker admits role in multi-million-dollar mortgage fraud

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A former New Jersey mortgage broker from Paramus who practiced in Englewood Cliffs admitted his role in a scheme that produced millions of dollars in bogus loans for a crew of scam artists.

Ara Mesropian, 39, said he lied on applications when he said borrowers produced cash down payments on what would be their primary residences and that they had more assets and earnings than they really did.

He and his co-conspirators then kept the inflated loan proceeds while keeping themselves distanced from all titles and deeds, the government said.

Mesropian pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Co-defendant Eddie Dukhman, with the assistance of two attorneys, “arranged to purchase properties owned by financial institutions, commonly referred to as real-estate-owned, or REO properties,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.

At about the same time, he said, Frank Corallo of Maywood “recruited other individuals to purchase those same properties.”

Fishman said the trio and others “employed numerous fraudulent techniques to further their scheme – including falsifying financial documents, HUD-1 settlement statements and residential loan applications; causing borrowers to apply and obtain loans on properties that they did not own; and failing to record deeds with the county clerk.”

U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan scheduled a Nov. 22 sentencing, plenty of time for the government to press the other defendants to take deals rather than cost taxpayers the expense of trials – and themselves the potential of long prison terms should a federal jury find them guilty.

Fishman credited special agents of the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service for making the case, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey A. Levine of Fishman’s Heath Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark.

Fishman noted that the case was brought in coordination with President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, established to “wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.” The group includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement.

Anyone with information relevant to this case is asked to call the FBI’s Newark Field Office at 973-792-3000.

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