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Post date: June 14 2012

A.G. Schneiderman Secures Guilty Plea Of Former Schenectady Builder Angelo Rossi In $500,000 Mortgage Fraud-Related Theft

A.G. Investigation Leads To Guilty Plea Stemming From Mortgage Fraud Case

Schneiderman: This Case Proves That No One Is Above the Law

ALBANY -- Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the guilty plea of Angelo Rossi, age 47, to Attempted Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class “D” felony, stemming from a mortgage-fraud scheme in which the defendant stole over $500,000 from Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., from November 2006 through 2007. Rossi appeared today in Schenectady County Court before Judge Karen Drago and admitted to stealing over $500,000 from Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., by arranging two separate “straw purchases” of two lots on Hardin Road in Duanesburg, in Schenectady County. In this type of scheme, borrowers put their names on loan documents, deeds, and other records in order to appear to be purchasing the land and the dwelling, when in fact they are merely obtaining the funding for the builder.

"Today's guilty plea demonstrates that no one is above the law. This con man admitted to engaging in a scam in which he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars. He then left his victims high and dry by taking off to Florida," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "The message of this case is clear: my office will go after unscrupulous individuals and bring them to justice."

Evidence developed during the joint-investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Financial Services (DFS) revealed that Rossi had owed several creditors at the time when he sought to build two homes on the Hardin Road lots. Unable to obtain another line of credit, Rossi enlisted the assistance of others to appear to be borrowers on the loan applications. The loan applications indicated that the houses were to be the straw buyers' primary residence. However, the borrowers’ intentions were not to reside in the houses, but rather to secure funding for Rossi in exchange for payoffs of $5,000 each.

Though Rossi had used some of the loan money to build the two houses, he also misappropriated the loan funds for personal purposes, such as paying his mortgage on his own home and repaying previous debts he had incurred. Rossi failed to complete the Hardin Road homes and he did not pay some of the subcontractors who had worked on the projects. The “straw buyers” then defaulted on the loans and the houses were sold by the bank in short sales. Since the bank recouped some of its losses, the restitution totaled approximately $368,000.

Rossi also had been charged with stealing from two private lenders who had agreed to loan him $75,000 and $60,000, during the same period Rossi engaged in the scheme to obtain the loan funds from Countrywide Home Loans. As part of the plea bargain, Rossi agreed to enter confessions of judgment in favor of the two lenders.

Rossi was the chairman and owner of Rossi Construction, Inc. The company’s executive office was in the Town of Rotterdam, which was also Rossi’s residence. Rossi Construction, Inc. also had an office on Guilderland Avenue, in the City of Schenectady. Until approximately 2009, Rossi bought and sold real estate and built residential houses in the Capital Region.  Rossi then moved to Port Richey, Florida, where he resided at the time of his arrest in November 2011 . The Attorney General’s Office had Rossi extradited from Florida to answer the criminal charges against him. His guilty plea today is the culmination of a year-long investigation into his fraudulent business practices. Sentencing is scheduled for September 21, 2012 and the court will sentence the defendant to one and one-third to four years in prison.

The Attorney General thanked the Department of Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin M. Lawsky for his agency's assistance with the case. Ricardo Velez, Director of the Criminal Investigations Unit, Financial Frauds & Consumer Protection Division and Investigator Delroy Levy handled the investigation for DFS.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Darren Miller, with the assistance of Investigator Mark Spencer, under the supervision of Stephen Maher, Deputy Bureau Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau; Gail Heatherly, Bureau Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau; and Nancy Hoppock, the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice.