Long Island man sentenced in NJ / NY mortgage program that cost banks $ 9 million
A Long Island man was sentenced Wednesday to one year and one day in federal prison for his role in a $ 9 million mortgage program in New Jersey and New York.
Yorce Yotagri, 54, of Freeport admitted last year that he teamed up with Jorge Flores of Oakdale and Jose Piehrahita, also of Freeport, to secure multiple home equity lines of credit for the same properties and pocket money before the lending banks find out. US Attorney Rachael A. Honig said.
One of those properties was in Jersey City, according to a complaint filed with the US District Court in Newark. Yotagri lived on another in Freeport, he said.
A waiver deed facilitated the transfer of ownership of the property from Freeport to Yotagri and Piedrahita even though Piedrahita did not own it, Honig said.
The defendants then used the property as collateral on a $ 290,000 Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) application that included inflated income and assets for Piedrahita, along with his contact information, he said.
Piedrahita got the loan, which he shared with Yotagri and Flores, the US lawyer said. HELOC funds were never repaid, she said.
Flores then asked another bank for a second HELOC in Piedrahita’s name for $ 250,000 – again using the Freeport property as collateral, according to the complaint.
He and Piedrahita submitted false documents – bogus reimbursement letters and bogus checks from other banks, among which – that showed the property was free of other mortgages, he said.
Piedrahita then shared the HELOC funds he received with Yotagri, Honig said. Again, the money was not refunded.
Before they finished, the conspirators had requested HELOCs on 17 different properties in New Jersey and New York, causing the bank to lose $ 9 million, authorities said.
Yotagri struck a deal with the government rather than being tried, pleading guilty in February 2020 to conspiring to commit bank fraud.
In addition to the jail term, U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez sentenced Yotagri in Newark to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $ 580,048.
The charges against his co-defendants are still pending.
Honig credited special agents in the Office of the Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the FBI, both in Newark, with the investigation that led to the charges, as well as the guilty plea and the conviction, secured by and Friday’s guilty plea by Yotagri, obtained by Assistant US Attorney Jason S. Gould of his Criminal Division and Special Assistant US Prosecutor Kevin DiGregory of the FHFA-OIG.
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