Friday, January 5, 2007

23 charged in mortgage fraud scheme

The FBI, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and the New York City Police Department busted a mortgage fraud ring in New York yesterday, according to a press release from the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

A federal indictment charges 23 Russian brokers, appraisers and bank employees of cooperating on fraudulent mortgage applications. Law enforcement agencies arrested 18 of those charged yesterday. They were arraigned yesterday. They pleaded not guilty and were released on bail. Four others were expected to turn themselves in today. One of the accused, Oleg Anokhin, is reportedly at large.

Among those arrested were Aleksander "Shorty" Lipkin, Igor "Ryzkiy" Mishelevich and Alex "Lyosha" Gorvits, brokers with AGA Capital of Brooklyn, according to a story by Kati Cornell of the New York Post.

The U.S. Attorney's Office stated that employees of Northside Capital NY Inc. (later Lending Universe Corporation) of Brooklyn were also charged.

From 2004 through 2006, the mortgage agents brokered more than 1,000 home loans with a total face value of more than $200 million. Lending institutions paid the agents a percentage - between 2% and 4% - of each loan as a fee. The indictment charges that property values were often inflated to increase the amounts of the loans (with the brokers keeping the difference), while the financial qualifications of phony purchasers were enhanced to guarantee loan approval.

The loans defaulted, forcing lending institutions to foreclose.

Alleged racketeer won't be at kid's birthday bash

A reputed Lucchese Crime Family associate and convicted gambler, Al Alvarez will not be attending his daughter's fifth birthday party, according to a story by Thomas Zambito of the New York Daily News.

Judge Alvin HellersteinAlvarez has been confined to his home as part of a bail arrangement since 2005, when he was arrested along with members of the Gambino Crime Family on a racketeering indictment. He has been granted permission to go trick-or-treating with his daughter each of the past two years, but Manhattan federal court Judge Alvin Hellerstein (photo) felt the latest request was out of line.

"A birthday party at home, school or church is one thing," the judge said. "A celebration outing on the eve of going to jail is another. Bail conditions were set for a reason, and the celebration is not consistent with those reasons."

The five-year-old's party is to be held at the 116-acre Lake Isle Country Club in Eastchester NY.

Alvarez, who reached a plea bargain on gambling charges, will enter prison later this month. He is to serve a year and a half behind bars.

Albanian & Russian mobs run 'baby factories'

Organized crime groups from Albania and Russia are believed to be managing at least one "baby factory" in Athens, Greece, according to a story by Natalie Clark in the UK Daily Mail.
Families in Europe and America wanting a child simply place an order and hand over considerable cash. Women associated with the factory, mostly Bulgarians and Romanian "gypsies," are impregnated and paid to turn over the resulting babies.
According to the report, women are coerced into the arrangement through a number of methods. In some cases, women are granted false travel papers in order to enter Greece and are then presented with huge bills for the service. They are told that the debt will be erased if they get pregnant and give up their babies. Other women are drawn into the racket through the promise of cash or drugs.

City probes mob "links"

New York City is looking into the alleged underworld connections of a man hired to manage a city-owned public golf course, according to reports by Stephanie Gaskell of the New York Post and Greg B. Smith of the New York Daily News.
Dominick Logozzo secured a 20-year deal to manage a course located near the Belt Parkway back in 2005. The contract took effect Jan. 1, 2006. City Controller William Thompson is now asking the Parks Department to consider backing out of the deal.
"The information we have obtained gives rise to numerous integrity concerns," Thompson wrote to the parks officials.
That information concerns Logozzo's alleged relationship to Craig Marino, a reputed soldier of the Colombo Crime Family who is wanted on federal racketeering charges.
Logozzo reportedly provided financial backing for Marino's investment in the Zone Chefs company, which produces the Zone Diet and has been targeted by prosecutors as a front for a stock swindling racket. A Lincoln Navigator automobile driven by Marino is reportedly registered in Logozzo's name.
While citing "integrity concerns," Thompson noted that Logozzo has not been charged with any crime and that the golf course manager was under no obligation to reveal connections to Marino at the time he bid for the job (Marino was indicted the following March).
Logozzo's brother told the New York Post that Dominick has no ties to the mob. "All he does is get up and go to work every day."

About Me

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Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website mafiahistory.us. Moderator of Mafia-related Yahoo discussion group. Author of Wrongly Executed? Coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime. Contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime. Writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.