A dozen North Jersey people were charged in an elaborate mortgage fraud scheme that bilked Paragon Federal Credit Union out of Montvale out of $3 million loans now in default.
A Bergen County grand jury returned a 25-count indictment charging them with theft, forgery and other crimes, County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said.
His investigators began making arrests as far back as last summer. These helped lead to charges against others — several of them from Hudson County (identities below).
However, Molinelli said the probe is continuing, involving, among other agencies, the Secret Service and the state Deartment of Treasury, Division of Taxation.
Investigators at the $336 million Paragon Federal Credit Union contacted Molinelli’s office after turning up several delinquent residential mortgage loans, the prosecutor said.
As it turn out, potential borrowers filled out loan applications with mortgage brokers from AOR Consultants or Apex Consultants, both owned and operated by Ovaldo Riveron of North Bergen, which were then submitted to Paragon, Molinelli explained.
The borrowers qualified for the loans by becoming credit union members, thanks to Dawn Woolbert, who “falsified the membership eligibility criteria” and OK’s applications for a fee from Riveron and an associate, Flavio Cardoza, the prosecutor said.
The person in charge of reviewing the applications to determine eligibility was Woolbert herself, he said.
“When a borrower did not met Paragon’s loan eligibility criteria, Woolbert would return the application to Osvaldo Riveron and Flavio Cardoza and she would inform them what the personal income information and appraised value of the property needed to be to approve the loan,” Molinelli said.
Riveron and Cardoza then doctored applications and resubmitted them with bogus income information, including fake W-2 forms and, in some cases, fabricated tax returns, the said.
To appraise the properties, Riveron and Cardoza hired Peter Lamicella of Lighthouse Appraisals, LLC, in Toms River. They instructed him to “provide an appraisal report directly to Paragon with property values provided by Woolbert so they appeared to meet Paragon’s loan amount-to-property-value ratio,” the prosecutor added.
Independent appraisers reviewed the figures, Molinelli said, and found the appraisals “grossly inflated.”
Named in the indictment:
Osvaldo Riveron, 50, and Flavio Cardoza, 38, both of 77th Street in North Bergen;
Dawn Woolbert, 44, of Waldwick,;
Jermaine Butler, 31; Taneisha Frye, 33; and Peter Smith, 38, all of Jersey City:
Shaon Griffin, 26, of Orange;
Lee O’Keefe, 41, of Glen Ridge;
Peter Lamicella, 41; Robert Lundholm, 42; and Frances Wilson, 61, all of Toms River;
UPDATE: Although originally named in the indictment, Vereesa Polk of Atlanta, Georgia was cleared of the charges.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.