New York, NY - May 27, 2015 - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrest of Fedlaire Aristide, 47, of Freeport, N.Y., for allegedly attempting to defraud Wells Fargo in a short sale scam that would have cost the bank hundreds of thousands of dollars. Aristide, who is not a licensed real estate broker or agent, is also charged with stealing thousands of dollars from a Brooklyn couple who he conned into giving him money towards the purchase of the same home, located in Brooklyn, which Aristide did not own and never acquired. If convicted, the defendant faces up to seven years in prison.
“We have zero tolerance for anyone who steals from hard-working New Yorkers, especially those who use the promise of homeownership to do so,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office will continue to pursue justice against anyone who attempts to profit from mortgage fraud.”
According to the Attorney General’s indictment and statements made by prosecutors at arraignment, Aristide allegedly submitted, or aided in the submission, of false and forged documents to Wells Fargo in an effort to defraud the bank into approving a short sale – a process in which a bank agrees to modify and reduce an existing residential mortgage loan – of a Brooklyn home. The submitted documents contained contracts of sale and other supporting documents normally relied upon to show a legitimate offer and sale of property. Aristide used these documents to mislead the bank and attempted to steal money. A short sale would have allowed Aristide to purchase the home at a price far below what was owed, giving Aristide a windfall profit. In essence, if the short sale were approved, the bank would have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on the property and Aristide would have made tens of thousands of dollars by using or accessing the equity in the home.
Additionally, the indictment alleges that Aristide also conned a Brooklyn couple into giving him thousands of dollars towards the purchase of the same Brooklyn home. Aristide falsely represented that, after he acquired the home at a short sale, he would sell them the home. When the bank rejected Aristide’s short sale offers, Aristide kept the money and refused to return it.
The defendant is charged with Attempted Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a Class D felony), Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a class D felony), Forgery in the Second (a class D felony), Attempted Residential Mortgage Fraud in the Second Degree (a class D felony), Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree (a class E felony) and a violation of Real Property Law section 442-e (a misdemeanor).
Aristide was arraigned today on the indictment before Supreme Court Judge Elizabeth A. Foley in Kings County Supreme Court. Bail was set at $10,000 bond or cash.
The charges against the defendant are allegations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Attorney General Schneiderman thanked the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General and Special Agent in Charge Steven Perez for their assistance Penna for their assistance in the investigation of the case.
The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Gabriel Tapalaga of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, with the assistance of Legal Analyst Bradley Rutty. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Gary T. Fishman and Deputy Bureau Chiefs Stephanie Swenton and Meryl Lutsky. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.
The Attorney General's investigation was conducted by Investigator Steven Broomer, Supervising Investigator Michael Ward and Deputy Chief John McManus. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella.