Mortgage task force expands indictments
A federal grand jury expanded charges against two real estate agents and indicted two others in a 20-count superseding indictment in wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy amid an investigation into mortgage fraud.
The four and others who have pleaded guilty participated in a conspiracy that involved more than 300 properties and $75 million in fraudulent loans, prosecutors say.
Dov Ratchkauskas and George Kubini, principals in Admiral Capital and other real estate companies, were indicted in January 2011 and now face more charges under the indictment filed Tuesday, based on work by the Western Pennsylvania Mortgage Fraud Task Force.
Kubini, 48, of Verona and Ratchkauskas, 46, of Pittsburgh sold property at overstated prices to buyers who couldn't qualify legitimately for loans, prosecutors say. The homes were financed through fraudulent documents submitted to lenders, including some that falsely showed down payments.
The government is seeking return from Kubini and Ratchkauskas of $1 million in cash and property, which were the gross proceeds of their scheme between November 2005 and December 2008.
Also indicted were Arthur Smith, 63, of Pittsburgh, an attorney who specialized in closing real estate transactions, and Sandra Svaranovic, 52, of Pittsburgh, an appraiser, who are charged with wire fraud and bank fraud.
According to the indictment, Smith submitted to lenders settlement statements that overstated the sales prices of properties and falsely showed that purchasers made payments, or failed to report payments that were made. Smith also failed to file tax forms that showed sales proceeds given to Kubini and Ratchkauskas.
Svaranovic prepared appraisals that overstated the value of properties that served as collateral for loans, the indictment said.
All four engaged in a wire fraud scheme that caused transfers from lenders to accounts of closing agents. Lenders defrauded included Chase, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo.
Smith also withdrew money from an escrow account to cover withdrawals made for his personal benefit, the indictment said, and he failed to federal tax returns for 2007, 2008 and 2009. Kubini filed false tax returns for 2008 and 2010, it said.
Kubini, Ratchkauskas and Smith were involved in a money laundering conspiracy to disguise the source and ownership of money involved in their fraud scheme.
According to the U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh, other members of the conspiracy who pleaded guilty included Robert Arakelian, who operated Pittsburgh Home Loans, and Rhonda and Rochelle Roscoe, who operated a mortgage broker business called Riverside Mortgage.
Others who pleaded guilty included Bartholomew Matto, Cynthia Pielin and Crystal Spreng, who all worked at financial institutions. They signed fraudulent verifications of deposit that showed borrowers had funds in their accounts to make the payments at closings.
Also pleading guilty were Daniel Sporrer, an attorney who executed fraudulent settlement statements, and Karen Atkison, an assistant to Sporrer.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan T. Conway is prosecuting the case.
John D. Oravecz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7882 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Experts: If health insurers’ safeguard goes broke, consumers could pay
- Camera prevalence approaches sci-fi realm
- Nike, Under Armour invest in watching exercisers’ steps
- Scented society is killing cheap perfume industry
- Rules could kick door open for nuclear power
- Visa limits vex businesses
- Paper’s prevalence unlikely to diminish
- ‘Promposals’ can be small as burritos, big as Jumbotrons
- Mylan raises bid for fellow drugmaker; Perrigo says ‘no’
- Tech sector drives gains on Wall Street
- MedExpress bought by United Health Group