April 13, 2021

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Mortgage News

Yonkers mortgage fraudster ordered to pay $694,450 in restitution

Terra Foundation fraudster Rocco Cermele was sentenced to a refund of $ 694,450 to victims and sentenced to prison plus three years’ custody release.

Internet scam Letitia JamesCermele von Yonkers pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud in the White Plains District Court.

The Terra Foundation from Valhalla and its predecessor The Pillow Foundation were not tax-exempt companies. From 2011 to 2012, the sham foundations targeted homeowners struggling with mortgage payments, claiming they could dispose of mortgage debt for a fee.

Terra filed about 60 mortgage relief papers with district clerks with a loan volume of $ 33 million, making it appear like the homeowners had paid off their debts.

The conspirators also encouraged clients to take out second mortgages and reverse mortgages, according to court documents, and then collected fees on the new loans.

Some customers were in debt for both the original loan and the new loan.

Cermele was Terra’s chief of operations. According to court records, he recruited clients and signed fake mortgage relief papers.

His allies included Jacqueline Graham, of Antioch, California, who has been named by the prosecution as the system’s mastermind. Bruce Lewis from Alaska and Washington State; Anthony Vigna, a former Thornwood attorney; and Paula Guadagno from Verplank.

Graham was sentenced to 11 years in prison last year. Lewis was sentenced to 7 years in prison in 2019. Vigna was sentenced to one year in prison in 2019 and disqualified as a lawyer. Guadagno was not convicted.

Cermele was originally convicted in October on a trial conducted over the phone by U.S. District Judge Nelson S. Roman.

Roman filed a motion with the government last October to seal the minutes of the proceedings and issued the formal judgment on March 24th.

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