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Feb. 6, 2013

Former Mortgage Broker and Bank Officer Charged with Conspiring to Commit Bank Fraud

NEWARK—A former mortgage broker and bank officer from Bergen County, New Jersey was arrested this morning for allegedly conspiring to commit bank fraud to secure a $1.5 million residential loan, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

James Cockinos, 58, a resident of Englewood Cliffs, is charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The defendant allegedly defrauded Washington Mutual Bank (later acquired by JPMorgan Chase) in New York to secure the loan. He is expected to make his initial court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court this afternoon.

According to the criminal complaint:

Cockinos was the owner and president of Federated Mortgage Company of America (FMCA) as well as on the Board of Directors at Mariner's Bank. Through FMCA, Cockinos served as the mortgage broker on a $1.5 million residential loan with Washington Mutual Bank in an application dated April 19, 2007. The borrower, identified as "Individual Two" in the complaint, applied for the loan at the request of a spouse, identified as "Individual One" in the complaint. There was no co-borrower on the loan.

The loan application indicated it was for the purchase of a $1.9 million home located in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Cockinos fraudulently indicated in the application that he had obtained the information through a face-to-face interview with Individual Two, when no such interview took place. The application, in fact, falsely represented the employment, income, and assets of the applicant.

The application indicated that there was $400,000 in a joint account held by Individuals One and Two at Mariner's Bank in New Jersey. Cockinos and Individual One had temporarily deposited $350,000 into the joint account for the purpose of misrepresenting Individual Two's assets. Cockinos also directed a Mariner's Bank employee to falsely verify that the account held $350,000 during the prior two months, when there was significantly less in the account during that time.

Washington Mutual ultimately approved a loan of $1.5 million. On September 25, 2008, JPMorgan Chase acquired the banking operations of Washington Mutual Bank. In 2010, Individual Two defaulted on the loan and the home went into foreclosure. It was sold March 16, 2012, leaving JPMorgan Chase with a loss of more than $500,000.

The bank fraud conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent In Charge David Velazquez in Newark, with the investigation leading to the charges and today's arrest.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zahid N. Quraishi of the U.S. Attorney's Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.

The charge and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Source: United States Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey

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