52 year old Essex County lawyer Stephanie Hand of Livingston, N.J., was found guilty yesterday March 30th of using stolen identities to file fraudulent mortgage loan applications for two real estate transactions by falsifying settlement statements and diverting loan proceeds. She was said to have stolen approximately $873,520 from a lender.
Hand, now has second-degree charges of conspiracy, money laundering and theft by deception. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The second-degree money laundering charge carries an enhanced fine of up to $500,000, and an additional anti-money laundering profiteering penalty of up to $250,000.
“This attorney took an oath to uphold the law, but she stood that oath on its head by using her law license to conspire in a criminal scheme to steal more than $873,000 from a lender,” said Attorney General Porrino. “This verdict ensures that attorney Hand will pay for her corruption and greed.”
Hand, however was not alone. She also conspired with Thomas D’Anna, 41, of Saddle Brook, N.J., in two fraudulent real estate sales between January 2009 and April 2009. These sales involved two properties, one at 248 River Road in Garfield and another at 91 Isabella Avenue in Newark.
In both sales, D’Anna, or a company he owned, sold the property with no actual buyer. They used stolen identities from residents of Puerto Rico to apply for loans for the purchases. They then submit false bank statements and other false information to support the applications. The lender provided loans of $415,865 for the Garfield property, and $457,655 for the Newark property.
Since Hand was the attorney and settlement agent for both closings, she was able file false HUD settlement statements for each closing indicating the buyers/borrowers made required payments and the loan proceeds were properly disbursed. In reality, the prior mortgages on the properties were already paid off, but the remaining proceeds from the sales were divided among D’Anna, Hand, and another party involved Julio Concepcion, 52, of Passaic, N.J.
The properties were sold at inflated prices that far exceeded what D’Anna paid for them. Only a few monthly payments were made on each of the new mortgage loans.
D’Anna pleaded guilty in January 2017 to a charge of second-degree conspiracy and faces a recommended sentence of five years in prison. Concepcion pleaded guilty in October 2015 to first- and second-degree conspiracy charges and faces a recommended sentence of 10 years in prison.
“This verdict is a testament to the hard work and expertise of our attorneys and investigators in handling a complex case of financial fraud,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “As long as con artists continue to target the big payoff promised by mortgage loans, we’ll continue to investigate and prosecute these cases aggressively.”