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Branch Managers Indicted

Former TopDot managers accused of mortgage fraud

March 18, 2010

By staff

Four more defendants have been indicted in a mortgage fraud case against former branch managers of a mortgage firm that lost its Federal Housing Administration approval in January and subsequently halted new business.

In a news release yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice said a superseding indictment was returned this week by a federal grand jury against the additional defendants.

The revised indictment adds Joseph Miller, Peter Hartofilis, Robert Hofler and Steve Vento as defendants in a case pending against Jason Vitulano and Peter Hartofilis.

Vitulano, who is being detained pending trial, and Miller were branch managers of a Boca Raton, Fla., office of TopDot Mortgage.

Last year, Premium Capital Funding LLC, which operates as TopDot, was included in a CitiMortgage Inc. black list of third-party originators who could not be associated with loans acquired by Citi.

In February, the company lost its FHA approval, was terminated as a Ginnie Mae issuer and was hit with a $674,000 penalty.

By the following month, the company posted a message on its Web site indicating that it had stopped accepting new applications.

Today's announcement said the defendants allegedly submitted fraudulent loan applications to First Magnus Financial Corp., NovaStar Mortgage Inc. and Washington Mutual Bank, N.A. The alleged scheme occurred between January 2006 and October 2007.

Vento allegedly submitted to fraudulent packages for $3 million in loans.

Miller was the closing attorney in the transactions, while Hofler provided fake verifications of deposit as a vice president at First Southern Bank, according to the government. Hofler's activity was associated with $5 million in approved mortgages.

In all, the indictment lists seven fraudulent transactions for $5,739,326.

United States of America, Plaintiff, vs. Jason Vitulano, Peter Hartofilis, Joseph Miller, Robert Hofler, and Steve Vento, Defendants.
Case No. 9:09-cr-80156-DMM (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida).

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