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Area Judge Pleads Guilty To False Statement, Obstructing FBI Agents

The federal court in White Plains where a 59-year-old former justice from Orange County pled guilty to lying about her residence in Rockland County.
The federal court in White Plains where a 59-year-old former justice from Orange County pled guilty to lying about her residence in Rockland County. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

A 59-year-old New City woman and former judge pleaded guilty on Thursday, April 26 for making false statements in connection with a loan application to buy a home in the Town of Monroe in Orange County.

Federal prosecutors said that Lurlyn A. Winchester, a former Justice for the Town Court of Monroe, pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy, in federal court in White Plains,.

She faces up to 30 years in federal prison and more than $1 million in fines when she is sentenced in August.

Prosecutors allege that the Rockland County resident lied on her application in order to satisfy a residency requirement for her position as Town Justice in Orange County. She also obstructed justice for providing FBI task force members, who were questioning her about her mortgage loan, with false documents, including fabricated rent payment receipts.

Winchester pled guilty to both counts of an indictment. The first charged her with making false statements to a mortgage lending business, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. 

The second charged her with falsifying records in a federal investigation, with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of a federal department or agency, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. 

The former justice's sentencing is set for Aug. 28 at 2 p.m.

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said: “As she admitted in court today, Lurlyn Winchester, in an attempt to fraudulently satisfy a residency requirement for a judgeship, lied and provided fake documents to secure a mortgage. She then lied to FBI task force officers and provided them with fake documents in an attempt to cover up that crime. Winchester’s lack of integrity and honesty did not merit a term on the bench. Her crimes will likely earn her a term in prison.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment as well as statements made in public court proceedings:

On or about Nov. 5, 2013, Winchester was elected Town of Monroe Justice. Under New York law, she was required to reside in Monroe in order to be eligible to hold that Town of Monroe Justice position. 

At the time, she and her husband lived in a home in New City that they purchased in 1997. 

In or about November 2013, Winchester attempted to purchase a condominium in Monroe, Orange County. 

On or about Dec. 17, 2013, Winchester entered into a lease agreement with a tenant to rent the New City Home to Tenant-1. At around that time, Tenant-1 provided Winchester with a $7,500 check. On a later date, Tenant-1 also provided Winchester with a $1,500 check.

In or about March 2014, the deal to purchase Monroe Condominium-1 fell through and Winchester returned $7,500 to Tenant-1. In the same month, Winchester entered into a contract to purchase a second Monroe condominium which was in the process of being built.

In or about June 2014, Winchester began submitting applications for a residential loan and supporting documents to representatives of Hudson United, who, in turn, submitted these items to several lenders.

Winchester represented, in the applications, that the New City home was the couple’s “present address.” She further represented in the applications that the loan was to be used to purchase Monroe Condominium-2. On the loan applications and an Affidavit of Occupancy signed by Winchester, she asserted that Monroe Condominium-2 would be their primary residence.

In or about late 2014, two lenders that had received Winchester’s loan application for Monroe Condominium-2 declined to approve the loan. 

The documents she submitted included a fake lease agreement and copies of the $7,500 check and $1,500 check Tenant-1 had provided to her at the end of 2013 and in early 2014, at the time Winchester was planning to purchase Monroe Condominium-1. The lender rejected these, noting that the dates of the checks and the lease did not make sense.

On or about February 27, 2015, a separate potential lender informed Hudson United that it placed the loan in “suspend for decline status” because of insufficient income. 

On or about April 2, 2015, Winchester and Plaza Home Mortgage closed on the loan and Plaza funded the purchase of Monroe Condominium-2. Tenant-1 never moved to the New City Home and Winchester did not move to Monroe Condominium-2.

On or about July 28, 2016, members of an FBI task force conducting an investigation and interviewed at Winchester at her office in New City.

Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI. He also thanked the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Margery B. Feinzig is in charge of the prosecution.

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