Former Haitian Strongman Pleads Guilty In Massive Mortgage Fraud Scheme
NEW YORK, NY (February 8, 2007) — Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Emmanuel Constant, 49, pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree in Kings County Supreme Court for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme. Sentencing has been scheduled for April 16, 2007.
This is the latest result of a continuing investigation by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force (“OCTF”) into mortgage fraud conspiracies that have distorted residential real estate markets in the New York City metropolitan area over the past several years.
Constant was charged in the Brooklyn indictment for fraudulently arranging over $1.7 million in bank financing for the purchase or refinancing of four Brooklyn properties. According to the indictment, Constant and other co-conspirators would locate a property for sale and generate a false and artificially high appraisal for the property. The defendants would then pay a straw buyer to submit his or her name and credit score to mortgage banks, which would accordingly provide loans to purchase the house — at the inflated value. The co-conspirators would then divert proceeds of the fraudulently obtained loans to themselves.
For part of the period covered in the indictment, Constant served as the Suffolk County branch manager for D & M Financial, Inc., a New Jersey-based mortgage bank. In a separate case also prosecuted by the OCTF, Constant pleaded guilty for his involvement in the theft of over $1 million in mortgage funds from the fraudulent sale of a Suffolk County home.
Attorney General Cuomo said, “Selling a house is one of the most important financial transactions of peoples’ lives. Mortgage and housing fraud can turn the American dream of owning a home into a nightmare. This complicated scheme victimized home sellers and innocent lenders alike, and distorted the residential real estate market in and around New York City. My office will continue to make it a priority to rout out fraud in the housing market.”
Cuomo said, “In this case, there is another reason to celebrate today’s guilty plea. In the 1990s Emmanuel Constant was the chief of a notorious Haitian death squad that was backed by the island’s military dictatorship. Many in New York’s large Haitian community will no doubt rejoice that Constant is no longer walking among us as a free man.”
Until OCTF arrested him in July of this year, Constant, a native of Haiti, had been living freely in New York despite a 1995 federal immigration warrant and a 1995 federal deportation order.
In a 2006 federal civil proceeding, Judge Sidney H. Stein of the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York held Constant civilly liable for torture, extrajudicial killings, and crimes against humanity committed between approximately 1992 and 1995 by the Front Revolutionnaire Pour L’Advancement et le Progres d’Haiti, or “FRAPH.” FRAPH, founded and commanded by Constant, was dedicated to terrorizing and torturing political opponents of Haiti’s military regime. The outstanding civil judgment for these offenses is $19 million.
The case was prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorneys General Sean Courtney and Peter Zanolin, under the supervision of Christopher Prather, the Deputy Attorney General in Charge of the Task Force. The Attorney General’s investigation was led by Senior Investigator Gerard Quinn, with the assistance of Investigator Brian Badal and other investigators in the Office of the Attorney General, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Arthur Schwartz.