Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Upstate NY Sale Leaseback Peddler Gets 4 To 12 For Grand Larceny Conviction In Equity Stripping Ripoff Of Cash-Poor, Hi-Equity Homeowners In F'closure

In Albany, New York, the Albany Times Union reports:

  • Five former employees of a Colonie firm that conned property owners, banks and lenders in a large-scale mortgage fraud scheme are all headed behind bars and owe millions of dollars.

  • The ex-members of the now-defunct Rivertown Investments at 1762 Central Ave. shed tears, apologized to victims and pleaded for leniency. The company's former owner denied being a criminal — and said it would be "simply impractical" to imprison him. That failed to move County Judge Stephen Herrick before a packed courtroom of victims and weeping relatives of the defendants.

  • "I see this type of fraud very close, almost to a violent offense — it's different from other kinds of fraud," said Herrick, who described the actions at Rivertown as "extremely, extremely heinous."

  • Former Rivertown owner Geoffrey Goldman, 32, of Albany, received 4 to 12 years in prison for grand larceny; his brother, Jonathan Goldman, 29, of Walden, Orange County, former vice president, received 1 1/3 to 4 years for scheming to defraud; disbarred attorney Kevin Wheatley, 39, of Waterford, the company's former in-house counsel and executive vice president, received 3½ to 10½ years for grand larceny; Jessica Peryea, 29, of Albany, a former sales director at Rivertown, received 1 to 3 years for grand larceny; and former Rivertown loan officer Jordan Laccetti, 31, of Saratoga Springs, received one year in jail for falsifying business records.

  • Geoffrey Goldman was ordered to pay more than $5.6 million in restitution, which, when paid, satisfies the total amount sought. Wheatley owes more than $5.1 million; Jonathan Goldman more than $3.5 million; Peryea more than $3 million and Laccetti $908,000.


  • The defendants solicited homeowners in financial distress to sell their homes to Rivertown. The outfit leased the homes back to the homeowners for usually 18 months under promises of net equity to be held as down payment on the repurchase of the properties.

  • But the homes were never sold back, customers were evicted and clients who repurchased homes were forced to spend thousands of dollars beyond their initial agreements.

  • Rivertown sales agents duped customers into believing the company would buy the homes while the firm actually hired straw buyers to apply for mortgages. The straw buyers would sign a "series agreement" or other documents to become members of Rivertown holding companies that received titles to the properties but never spent any money required under the deals.


  • [Judge] Herrick noted [disbarred attorney] Wheatley has expressed fears his family could lose their home. "I find that somewhat ironic," the judge said.


  • Rivertown had at least 105 lease-back properties in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey ranging in value from $112,000 to more than $2.6 million. The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Nancy Snyder.(1)

For more, see 5 get jail, owe millions in mortgage schemeFormer employees of Rivertown Investments receive sentences.

(1) At one time, many in state and local law enforcement (particularly those with untrained eyes and who were otherwise clueless in handling 'semi-sophisticated' white collar crimes - for some, anything more complex than investigating a 'rubber check' case is 'semi-sophisticated') once passed on prosecuting these sale leaseback equity stripping ripoffs that under the flimsy pretense that these cases were merely 'civil matters.' Over the last couple of years, it's been primarily the Feds (U.S. Attorneys, FBI, Secret Service, etc.) that have been bringing prosecutions in these equity stripping ripoffs. However, as this story reflects, more and more state court prosecutors now appear to be stepping up to the plate and showing some guts by bringing criminal charges against these scammers. See, for example:

See generally:

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