TRENTON –Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that a lawyer from Essex County was sentenced to state prison today for conspiring with others to steal approximately $873,520 from a lender by using stolen identities to file fraudulent mortgage loan applications for two bogus real estate transactions, falsifying settlement statements and diverting loan proceeds.
Stephanie Hand, 52, of Livingston, N.J., was sentenced to eight years in state prison by Superior Court Judge John I. Gizzo in Newark. Hand was found guilty in a jury trial on March 30, 2017 of second-degree charges of conspiracy, money laundering and theft by deception. The charges were contained in a Feb. 6, 2014 superseding indictment stemming from an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice, with assistance from the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office and U.S. Secret Service.
Deputy Attorneys General Jillian Carpenter and Anthony Torntore tried the case and handled the sentencing hearing for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau.
“When lawyers like Hand or other licensed professionals betray the trust placed in them and use their licenses to steal, the cost can be extremely high, as this case demonstrates,” said Attorney General Porrino. “With this sentence, we send a message that a thief in a business suit belongs in prison just like any other thief. This was a challenging case that was handled with great skill by our trial team.”
“The immediate victim in this case was a lender, but mortgage fraud ultimately raises the cost of mortgage loans for all of us,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We’ll continue to prosecute white collar crime aggressively and put con artists like Hand behind bars where they belong.”
The state presented testimony and evidence at trial that Hand conspired with others, including Thomas D’Anna, 41, of Saddle Brook, N.J., in two fraudulent real estate sales between January 2009 and April 2009. The sales involved properties at 248 River Road in Garfield and 91 Isabella Avenue in Newark. In both sales, D’Anna, or a company he owned, sold the property, while no actual buyer existed. The defendants used identities stolen from residents of Puerto Rico to apply for loans for the purchases, submitting false bank statements and other false information to support the applications. The lender provided loans of $415,865 for the Garfield property, and $457,655 for the Newark property. Hand was the attorney and settlement agent for both closings.
Hand filed false HUD settlement statements for each closing indicating the buyers/borrowers made required payments and the loan proceeds were properly disbursed. In reality, prior mortgages on the properties were paid off, but the remaining proceeds from the sales were divided among D’Anna, Hand, and a third defendant, Julio Concepcion, 52, of Passaic, N.J. The properties were sold at inflated prices that far exceeded what D’Anna paid for them. Only a few monthly payments were made on each of the new mortgage loans. D’Anna pleaded guilty in January 2017 to a charge of second-degree conspiracy. Concepcion pleaded guilty in October 2015 to first- and second-degree conspiracy charges. Those defendants are awaiting sentencing.
Deputy Attorneys General Carpenter and Torntore were assisted at trial by Analyst Nathalie Kurzawa and Deputy Attorney General Sara Quigley, who is with the Division of Criminal Justice Appellate Bureau. Detective Roxanna Ordonez was the lead detective and Detective Mark Byrnes was the trial detective for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. The case was supervised by Lt. Vincent Gaeta, Sgt. James Scott, Deputy Bureau Chief Mark Kurzawa and Bureau Chief Michael Monahan. Deputy Attorney General Carpenter and former Deputy Attorney General Mary Erin McAnally presented the indictment to the state grand jury. The investigation was conducted for the Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau by Detective Ordonez and Analysts Rita Gillis and Amy Patterson, under the supervision of retired Lt. James MacInnes, retired Lt. Harry Maronpot, Lt. David Nolan and Lt. Lisa Shea. Attorney General Porrino thanked Detective Anthony Fasolas of the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office and the U.S. Secret Service for their valuable assistance in the investigation.
Defense Attorney for Stephanie Hand:
Thomas R. Ashley, Esq., Newark, N.J.
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