December 21, 2011 [WEWS]
CLEVELAND – Five pleaded guilty to changes in the nation’s largest mortgage fraud case, which was based out of northeast Ohio.
Prosecutors said Uri Gofman, 39, of Beachwood, promised family and friends a profit for investing in his real estate business, Real Asset Fund. The whole scheme started with seed money in a bank account in Latvia.
According to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, Gofman had people purchase homes and claim there were improvements in order to refinance them. The house would then me sold to under-qualified buyers. Prosecutors said Gofman defrauded lenders through loan application fraud, down payment fraud and loan distribution fraud.
Gofman pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, one count of theft, two counts of money laundering, one count of telecommunications fraud and six counts of tampering with records. Gofman will pay $1 million restitution, forfeit $600,000 and turned over 43 houses to the Cuyahoga County Land Bank. The properties are valued at $4.1 million. He will be sentenced to more than eight years in prison.
Anthony Capuozzo, 41, of Concord, owned Family Title and used the business for a down payment scheme. He pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, two counts of money laundering, six counts of tampering with records and one count of telecommunications fraud. He was sentenced to one year in prison, which will be served consecutive to a 26-month sentence.
The whole case involved more than 500 real estate transactions, which totaled $44 million in fraudulent loans and $31 million in profits.
“These criminals are mortgage fraud predators and deserve every year in prison that they receive. While these hoodlums were illegally making money they were devastating our neighborhoods with foreclosures,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason said. The involved companies also entered guilty pleas.
Prosecutors said 358 of 453 houses went into foreclosure in 22 Cuyahoga County communities, including:
239 houses in Cleveland
74 houses in Cleveland Heights
33 houses in Maple Heights
18 houses in Euclid
14 houses in University Heights
13 houses in East Cleveland
12 houses in Garfield Heights
12 houses in Shaker Heights
8 houses in Lakewood
7 houses in South Euclid
5 houses in Lyndhurst
3 houses in Beachwood
3 houses in Bedford Heights
2 houses in Bedford