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

HELOC Photo Credit:

A Long Island man admitted in federal court in Newark that he participated in a $9 million ‘shotgun’ mortgage scheme in New Jersey and New York.

Yorce Yotagri, 53, of Freeport partnered with two other Long Island men – identified as 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, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Craig Carpenito 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, Carpenito 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, Carpenito said.

Piedrahita got the loan, which he split with Yotagri and Flores, the U.S. attorney said. The HELOC funds were never repaid, he 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 -- that showed the property wasn’t encumbered by other mortgages, it says.

Piedrahita then split the HELOC funds he received with Yotagri, Carpenito said. Once again, the money wasn’t repaid.And so it went, federal authorities said.

Before they were through, Carpenito said, the conspirators had applied for HELOCs on 17 different properties in New Jersey and New York.

Carpenito 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 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.

U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez set sentencing for Yotagri on a single count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud for June 25, although that could change depending how the cases against his co-defendants proceed.

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