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Real Estate Agent Sentenced in Short Sale Scheme

Anna McElaney sentenced to 8 months

July 27, 2011

By KENNETH R. GOSSELIN The Hartford Courant - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

A real estate agent who pleaded guilty in an elaborate short-sale mortgage fraud scheme has been sentenced to eight months in a federal prison, plus three years of supervised release. A second agent who pleaded guilty awaits sentencing.

Anna McElaney, 40, of Norwalk, must spend the first six months of the supervised release in home confinement, according to the sentence handed down in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Conn., Monday.

McElaney and another Farfield County real estate agent, Sergio Natera, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud last year in the short-sale scheme, which took place in 2008. Natera is awaiting sentencing.

McElaney also admitted to similar conduct on other properties, including a second in Bridgeport, one in Monroe and one in Wallingford. McElaney has paid restitution of $30,125.

"This prosecution should serve as a warning to real estate agents and others who seek to take advantage of the current financial crisis by defrauding lenders through short-sale fraud schemes," said U.S. Attorney David B. Fein.

A short sale is a transaction in which banks agree to accept less money that what is owed on a property to allow a sale to a new owner. According to court documents and statements in court, the two agents concocted a scheme in which they placed a low-ball offer on a property in Bridgeport and didn't tell the original lender about better offers.

McElaney and Natera then bought the property and quickly sold it for a profit, according to the documents and testimony.

Mark A. Bederow, McElaney's attorney, said Tuesday that the prison sentence was roughly a third of the minimum of 21 months called for under sentencing guidelines and sought by government prosecutors.

"We're happy that the court recognized the kind of person Anna is, how well she is regarded by family, friends and people she works with," Bederow said.

Bederow said the fraud did not involved falsifying mortgage documents.

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