Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Connecticut Feds: Sneaky Attorney Transferred Condo Interest To Girlfriend For $1 On Eve Of Getting Belted w/ $3.9M Restitution Order In Connection w/ Conviction For Role In Mortgage Fraud/Short Sale Racket

In Stamford, Connecticut, The Connecticut Law Tribune reports:
  • Months before a judge sentenced Stamford attorney Christopher Brecciano to prison and ordered him to pay millions of dollars in restitution for his involvement in a mortgage fraud scheme, he sold his interest in a condominium for $1. Now the U.S. Attorney's Office says it wants the actual value of Brecciano's interest in the real estate to go toward paying any victims.

    On Nov. 5, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Sciarrino filed a complaint in U.S. District Court alleging fraudulent transfer against Brecciano and the Stamford woman to which his property was allegedly sold. Court documents describe Ermina Bojadzic as Brecciano's girlfriend.

    Brecciano "knew or should have known that he was the target of a criminal investigation and prosecution, with the potential for the imposition of restitution to his victims," Sciarrino wrote in the complaint.

    In October, U.S. District Judge Janet Hall sentenced Brecciano, 37, to 14 months in prison. He has been ordered to surrender to the federal Bureau of Prisons by Dec. 17.

    Brecciano and his male co-defendants owe a combined $9.4 million in restitution, though Brecciano is solely liable for $3.9 million, court documents show.

    Brecciano and Bojadzic bought a condominium on Seaton Road in Stamford in June 2008, holding title jointly. They paid $55,000 for the property, which had been in foreclosure. The condominium is now valued at about $96,350, according to the Stamford assessor's office.

    Brecciano pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud in February 2014. In January, he transferred his interest in the property to Bojadzic by quitclaim deed for $1, prompting this civil action.

    The U.S. Attorney's Office is asking that the transfer of Brecciano's interest in the property be adjudged fraudulent and void to the extent necessary to satisfy the judgment in his criminal case. It also seeks to have the United States be awarded a judgment against Bojadzic for the value of Brecciano's interest, plus costs, fees and interest.

    ***

    Brecciano acted as closing attorney in more than 50 mortgage loan transactions, and provided false information to lenders, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. The fraudulent information included false verifications of down payments on real estate transactions, false deeds and false HUD-1 forms.

    The government has asserted that Brecciano knew in many of the transactions that the borrower was actually a "straw buyer," and that other individuals actually intended to control the property and collect rental income. His co-defendants had developed and used a "stable of straw buyers from the Bangladeshi community," according to federal prosecutors.

    Brecciano in many cases distributed mortgage loan funds to the straw buyer and other co-conspirators at the closing, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. The properties involved typically ended up in foreclosure or in short sale transactions. Brecciano worked on the short sale transactions and was aware the buyer and seller were working together to retain control of the property, according to federal prosecutors.

    According to the state Judicial Branch website, Brecciano was placed on interim suspension in June. The Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel has initiated a disciplinary action against him based on his conviction, with a hearing scheduled for Nov. 30.

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