4 Mortgage Fraudsters Sentenced
Aaron Hand, Oyster Bay Cove, New York, Kenneth Law, Pelham, New York, Eric Shields, Media, Pennsylvania, and Jerry Strklja, Queens, New York, were sentenced for perpetrating a massive mortgage fraud scheme conducted through a corrupt loan origination company called AFG Financial Group, Inc.
As previously reported by Mortgage Fraud Blog, the defendants were charged via indictment for operating a $100 million mortgage scam and were found guilty by a jury in 2011 of multiple felonies, including Enterprise Corruption, Scheme to Defraud, Conspiracy, and dozens of Grand Larcenies.
Hand was sentenced to 8 – 25 years in state prison; Law was sentenced to 5 to 15 years in state prison; Shields was sentenced to 5 ½ – 16 ½ years in state prison; and Strklja was sentenced to 3 to 9 years in state prison.
Beginning in July 2008, the Manhattan, New York, District Attorney's Office launched its investigation into the activities of AFG, called "Operation Broken Brownstone," which revealed a nearly four-year path of mortgage fraud totaling well over $100 million in bad loans.
To date, there have been nearly 30 convictions resulting from the investigation.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., announced the sentencing.
District Attorney Vance thanked Assistant District Attorneys Edward Starishevsky, Garrett Lynch, and Harold Wilson, all under the supervision of Principal Deputy Chief Gary T. Fishman; paralegal analysts Richard Kim, Song-Mee Yoon-Smith, Katie Ko, Alexis Etow, and Steve Hsia; and DANY Investigators Thomas Jackson, Gerald Bergold, Michael Wigdor, Santiago Batista, Stephen McCallion, and Chief Investigator Walter Alexander. Senior Investigative Counsel Richard T. Preiss also assisted in the trial. District Attorney Vance also thanked the New York State Banking Department.
"Crime was the business of AFG – these four defendants went to work every day with the intent to commit mortgage fraud; it was literally their job," said District Attorney Vance. "This scam would not have been possible without the contributions of these four defendants, who each played an integral role in the formation and daily activities of the company. I would like to thank Judge Berkman for recognizing the seriousness of these crimes, which contributed to the collapse of the securitized debt market."
Courtesy Mortgage Fraud Blog