Federal: International fugitive admits role in $ 30 million mortgage fraud in NJ

A loan officer at a New Jersey mortgage company who had been an international fugitive for several years admitted to his role in a long-standing large-scale scam that cost lenders more than $ 30 million, said authorities.

Isaac DePaula, 41, and a group of conspirators ended the scheme through a company called Premier Mortgage Services (PMS), according to a lawsuit filed in US District Court in Newark.

The thieves have targeted low-income areas, recruiting straw buyers to apply for mortgages for properties they really can’t afford, federal officials have charged.

The conspirators obtained the loans by submitting false documents as part of mortgage applications, making it appear that the buyers had a lot more assets and made a lot more income than they actually had, according to the complaint.

DePaula and his fellow loan officers at PMS “illegally profited by receiving a commission for every mortgage they closed,” the complaint says. They also diverted some of the ill-gotten income to themselves through shell companies or bogus bank accounts, he says.

The properties, meanwhile, were seized, federal authorities said.

DePaula, originally from Brazil, fled the United States after federal authorities began investigating him and others. The government filed its first criminal complaint in 2012. A federal grand jury indicted him four years later.

DePaula returned to face charges in March 2020.

Last month he pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bank fraud in exchange for leniency upon conviction.

U.S. District Judge Esther Salas has scheduled the sentencing in Newark for April 19.

Other people charged and / or convicted in connection with the scheme include a co-owner of PMS, a lawyer who handled several fences, an accountant who created false documents, the owner of a real estate development company, several agents of credit and a paralegal.

The case was investigated by the FBI, the IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Office of the Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Acting Deputy Principal U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal secured the plea from DePaula.

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