A former New Jersey attorney was sentenced Wednesday to 48 months in prison for his role in a $40.8 million mortgage fraud scheme, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ).
Joseph W. Witkowski, 70, of Flemington, New Jersey, and his conspirators recruited straw buyers for oceanfront condominiums in New Jersey, Georgia and South Carolina that were overbuilt by developers who were also in financial distress. The buyers apparently had good credit but lacked the financial wherewithal to buy the properties.
In order to induce mortgage lenders to make loans for the condos to the straw buyers, Witkowski and his conspirators committed mortgage fraud by making fake documents such as W-2 forms, income tax returns, investment statements, and rental agreements. The defendants even created numerous telephone numbers to fake the employment of the buyers so that when the lender would call to verify job history, they would answer the phone and lie to the lender.
According to the USDOJ, once the mortgages were approved and closed, Witkowski and his conspirators had some of the funds wired or checks deposited into various accounts that he and his conspirators controlled.
Witkowski previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez to three years of supervised release and $13,105570 in restitution and must forfeit $2,412,899, representing the proceeds of the fraud.