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Lyndhurst woman takes 11th-hour plea in $30M mortgage scheme

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Jury selection in her trial was beginning when a Lyndhurst woman pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark today to a long-running, large-scale mortgage fraud scheme that caused an estimated $30 million in losses.

Klary Arcentales, 45, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and four counts of bank fraud, avoiding trial.

Federal prosecutors were prepared to show that, between 2007 and 2012, Arcentales engaged in a mortgage fraud conspiracy through a company called Premier Mortgage Services (Premier), where she worked as a loan officer, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.

After targeting properties in poor neighborhoods in Belleville, Nutley, Irvington and Linden, Arcentales and her co-conspirators recruited straw buyers and ginned up mortgage applications for them that made it appear they could afford far more than they did.

They then split the proceeds by using fraudulent settlement statements known as “HUD-1” reports, which Fishman said “hid the true sources and destinations” of the bank funds that covered the mortgages.

“Once the money was entered into accounts they controlled, the defendants shuttled funds among various other accounts, in amounts greater than $10,000 per transaction,” he said.

Two other conspirators, Lester Soto, 57, of Freehold, and 56-year-old Linda Cohen of Orange, already pleaded guilty in connection with their roles in the mortgage fraud scheme. Both were expected to testify against Arcentales.

Soto acted as a loan officer on certain Premier mortgage loan applications and took a percentage of Premier’s profits, employing forgers to create false and fraudulent documents. She also hooked them up with loan officers at Premier, including Arcentales, to create other bogus paperwork.

Cohen, meanwhile, was a paralegal who served as the settlement agent on mortgage loans brokered by Arcentales for various properties. She convened closings, received funds from lenders, and prepared false “HUD-1” reports that claimed to reflect the sources and destinations of funds for mortgages on subject properties.

U.S. District Judge Esther Salas scheduled sentencing forArcentales for May 19, 2014.

Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, and of the IRS-Criminal Investigation for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea, secured by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Agarwal and Zach Intrater of the Criminal Division in Newark.

Fishman also thanked the Social Security Administration-Office of Inspector General for its participation.

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