From the York-Dispatch:
A former East Berlin real-estate agent defrauded mortgage lenders of more than $6.2 million by filing false loan applications, then pocketed about $2.3 million of that money, a federal jury in Harrisburg determined this week.
Joanne M. Seeley, 41, now of Tolar, Texas, remains free pending her sentencing hearing, which has not yet been scheduled, according to Heidi Havens, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Harrisburg.
On Monday, jurors found Seeley guilty of four counts each of wire fraud and money laundering. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, Havens said.
Between 2006 and 2008, Seeley owned and operated the East Berlin-based business S&D Property Solutions. She was a licensed real-estate agent until November 2006, when she surrendered her license in lieu of disciplinary action, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The scheme: Seeley used false real-estate contracts, inflated property appraisals, bogus employment verifications and fictional leases to defraud people and companies out of money. The crimes happened in York, Adams, Cumberland and Dauphin counties, officials said.
Seeley would find homes listed for sheriff’s sale and tell the homeowners they could avoid foreclosure by selling their homes to her or her buyers, who would then lease the properties back to the homeowners after the sale, according to court documents.
She assured homeowners this would allow them to pay off debts, rebuild their credit ratings and allow them to qualify for new mortgages when they bought back their homes a year or so later, officials said.
Incentives: Seeley told buyers of the properties they would be reimbursed for all out-of-pocket expenses, including down payments, plus receive an $8,000 “fee” for engaging in the transaction, authorities said; she also promised buyers they would receive monthly rent that would cover most or all of their mortgage payments.
“Seeley submitted a plethora of false documents to the mortgage lenders in order to induce them into approving unqualified buyers’ loan applications,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
False leases: She concealed the fact that the buyer and seller had entered into buy-back agreements, and submitted false leases to the lenders with fake tenant names and rents, officials said.
She also charged inflated commissions of up to 47 percent, officials said.
The defrauded homeowners were never able to buy back their homes, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Seeley’s attorney, assistant federal public defender Lori Ulrich, could not immediately be reached for comment.