Long Island Man Sentenced In NJ/NY ‘Shotgun’ Mortgage Scheme That Cost Banks $9 Million

A Long Island man was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for his role in a $9 million ‘shotgun’ mortgage scheme in New Jersey and New York.

Yorce Yotagri

Yorce Yotagri

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Yorce Yotagri, 54, of Freeport admitted last year that he partnered with Jorge Flores of Oakdale and Jose Piehrahita, also of Freeport, to secure several home equity lines of credit for the same properties and pocket the money before the lending banks found out, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig said.

One of those properties was in Jersey City, a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Newark says. Yotagri lived on another in Freeport, it says.

A quitclaim deed facilitated the transfer of ownership of the Freeport property to Yotagri and Piedrahita even though Piedrahita didn’t 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 split with Yotagri and Flores, the U.S. attorney said. The HELOC funds were never repaid, she said.

Flores then applied to a different bank for a second HELOC in Piedrahita’s name for $250,000 – again using the Freeport property as collateral, the complaint says.

He and Piedrahita submitted bogus documents – false payoff letters and bogus checks from other banks, among them -- that showed the property wasn’t encumbered by other mortgages, it says.

Piedrahita then split the HELOC funds he received with Yotagri, Honig said. Once again, the money wasn’t repaid.

Before they were through, the conspirators had applied for HELOCs on 17 different properties in New Jersey and New York, causing $9 million in losses to the bank, authorities said.

Yotagri took a deal from the government rather than face trial, pleading guilty in February 2020 to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez sentenced Yotagri in Newark on Wednesday to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $580,048.

Charges against his co-defendants are still pending.

Honig credited special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General and the FBI, both in Newark, with the investigation leading to the charges, as well as to the guilty plea and sentencing, secured by and Friday’s guilty plea by Yotagri, secured by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason S. Gould of his Criminal Division and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin DiGregory of the FHFA-OIG.

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