Cuomo: Former Haitian Paramilitary Strongman Found Guilty In Massive Mortgage Fraud Scheme

BROOKLYN, NY (July 25, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that former Haitian strongman Emmanuel Constant has been found guilty of all six felony counts against him related to a massive mortgage fraud scheme. A Kings County Supreme Court jury found Constant guilty of fraudulently arranging millions of dollars in home loans for three Brooklyn properties. Constant, who has been convicted in Haiti, in absentia, for crimes against humanity, will remain in police custody. Sentencing will occur on September 10, 2008.

“Today is a victory for justice, and Emmanuel Constant will no longer be a menace to our society,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Constant is going to jail for harming New Yorkers through an elaborate mortgage scheme. Until he was arrested for mortgage fraud, this lifelong criminal and former leader of a notorious Haitian death squad was living freely in New York.”

In an elaborate mortgage fraud scheme, Constant and other co-conspirators fraudulently arranged the bank financing for the purchase or refinancing of three Brooklyn properties. After locating a property for sale and generating an artificially high appraisal value for the property, they would pay a straw buyer to get loans from mortgage banks to purchase the house at the inflated value. Constant and the co-conspirators would then divert the proceeds of the fraudulently obtained home loans to themselves. Many of Constant’s co-conspirators have been arrested, and some contributed to the testimony against him.

For part of the period of the mortgage fraud scheme, Constant, 51, served as the Suffolk County branch manager for D & M Financial, Inc., a New Jersey-based mortgage bank. In a separate conviction also prosecuted by the Attorney General’s office, Constant served two years in prison for his involvement in the theft of over $1 million in mortgage funds from the fraudulent sale of a Suffolk County home. Constant completed serving this jail time on July 1, 2008.

Before being arrested for mortgage fraud, Constant, a native of Haiti, had been living freely in New York despite a 1995 federal immigration warrant and a 1995 federal deportation order. Constant was convicted in Haiti, in absentia, for crimes against humanity. He was the founder and commander of the Front Revolutionnaire Pour L’Advancement et le Progres d’Haiti, or “FRAPH,” which was dedicated to terrorizing and torturing political opponents of Haiti’s military regime.

The Kings County Supreme Court jury found Constant guilty of two class “C” felonies, two class “D” felonies, and two class “E” felonies. Justice Abraham Gerges of the Kings County Supreme Court presided over the trial, and sentencing will occur on September 10, 2008. Constant faces a maximum of 15-45 years in prison.

This is the latest result of a continuing investigation by the Attorney General’s office into mortgage fraud conspiracies that have distorted residential real estate markets in the New York City metropolitan area over the past several years.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Deputy Attorney General Thomas Schellhammer, under the supervision of Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Robin Baker. The Attorney General’s investigation was led by Senior Investigator Gerard Quinn, with the assistance of Senior Investigators Brian Badal and Joel Poccia, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Arthur Schwartz and Deputy Chief Investigator Thomas Mullen.