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Dec. 6, 2011

Five Individuals Will Spend Time Behind Bars For Their Roles In Mortgage Scams
Schneiderman: Rivertown Financial Services Preyed on Homeowners in Financial Distress Leaving Some Evicted From Their Own Homes

ALBANY - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that Kevin P. Wheatley, 39, was sentenced by the Honorable Stephen Herrick to 3 to 10 years in prison for his role in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme. Wheatley was also ordered to pay restitution of over $5 million to the victims of the fraud. He had pled guilty in July to one count of grand larceny in the second degree and to scheming to defraud in the first degree. When he pled guilty, Wheatley became disbarred from the further practice of law.

Wheatley had admitted to Albany County Court Judge Herrick that from May 2005 through March 2008, he and others at Rivertown Financial Services of Albany defrauded mortgage lending institutions and owners of residential real estate. The scheme was accomplished through the use of "straw" buyers who provided inflated income and asset information to fraudulently obtain loans to buy properties in the Capital Region and the Hudson Valley, as well as New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

"Rivertown Financial Services preyed on homeowners who were in financial distress, offering what seemed to be a way out of the red and back into the black," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "In the end, Rivertown's actions unfortunately led some of the unsuspecting individuals to be evicted from their own homes. My office will not tolerate people who use difficult economic times to take advantage of hardworking New Yorkers. These sentencings are a clear example of that."

According to court records, Rivertown, of 1762 Central Avenue, Albany, solicited homeowners who were in financial distress to sell their homes. The company would then agree to lease the homes back to them and to apply their net equity as a down payment on their eventual repurchase of the homes. In many cases, however, the homes were not sold back to customers, and some homeowners were actually evicted from their homes.

Other Rivertown defendants pled guilty in connection with this scheme in Albany County Court. They include:
  • Geoffrey Goldman, 32, of Albany, an owner of Rivertown Investments, LLC. Goldman pled guilty to one count of grand larceny in the second degree and one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree. He received 4 to 12 years in prison and must pay fines and restitution totaling $5.6 million.
  • Jonathan Goldman, 29, of Newburgh, an owner and officer of Rivertown and the straw buyer for approximately sixteen transactions. With his brother Geoffrey Goldman and Wheatley, Jonathan Goldman was also an owner of Griffon Title Agency, which operated out of the Rivertown suite of offices. Jonathan Goldman pled guilty to one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree and received 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison, a fine, and restitution totaling $3.5 million.
  • Jessica Peryea, 29, of Albany, a licensed real estate broker, the sales director for Rivertown, and a straw buyer for at least five transactions in New York and Pennsylvania. She pled guilty to one count of grand larceny in the third degree. Peryea received 1 to 3 years in prison, a fine, and restitution totaling $3 million.
  • Jordan Laccetti, 31, of Saratoga Springs, a loan officer for Rivertown. Together with Wheatley and Geoffrey Goldman, Laccetti ran a branch of Aapex Mortgage, which operated out of the Rivertown suite of offices. Laccetti admitted that he completed an application for a loan through Aapex Mortgage that contained inflated income and asset information. Laccetti pled guilty to one count of falsifying business records in the first degree and received 1 year in jail, a fine, and restitution totaling $908,000.
Attorney General Schneiderman thanks the New York State Department of Financial Services for their assistance with this investigation.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Nancy Snyder, with the assistance of Investigator Mark Spencer, under the supervision of Gail Heatherly, Bureau Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau.

Source: Attorney General's Office for the State of New York

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