Share This Page

Sewickley woman sentenced to 10 years for mortgage fraud

| Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, 5:00 p.m.

A Sewickley woman won't have to pay her former friends restitution for the money they lost from conspiring in her mortgage frauds, but she will spend 10 years in prison, partly because she hasn't shown remorse for the damage she did to their lives, a federal judge ruled on Friday.

A federal jury in September convicted Denise Bonfilio, 56, on eight counts of mail fraud and one count of money laundering in connection with inflated loans taken out on five properties.

In a day-long sentencing hearing, Bonfilio repeatedly insisted that she did nothing wrong and afterward pointed out that some of the other people charged in the fraud, including a mortgage broker, received much shorter sentences.

“Somehow, I end up with time like Bernie Madoff,” she said.

Bonfilio was flipping houses but getting the money to renovate them by overstating the sale prices to lenders, said Assistant U.S. Attorney James Garrett. She pocketed much of the money to lead a lavish lifestyle that included buying a Jaguar and taking trips to New York, he said.

Garrett urged U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti to give Bonfilio a sentence of between 11 years and 3 months and 14 years because of “her manipulativeness, her scorn of the people who participated with her.”

Noting that Bonfilio was intelligent and articulate, Garrett said that if she had put her talents to good use, she would have been a commendable person, but she didn't.

“She lacks a moral compass,” he said.

Conti said she decided to shave 15 months from Bonfilio's sentence because of her charity work and work ethic, but declined to show more leniency because of how Bonfilio had victimized her friends.

“Many of them were close friends of Ms. Bonfilio,” she said. “They liked her and respected her.”

In addition to 10 years in prison, Conti sentenced Bonfilio to three years of probation and ordered her to pay more than $2 million in restitution.

The government had sought more than $600,000 in restitution for five property owners, but Garrett admitted during the hearing that they had knowingly gone along with Bonfilio's scheme.

The judge compared the claim with two bank robbers expecting the third bank robber to reimburse them for money they spent preparing for the robbery because the third robber had walked off with the proceeds from the robbery.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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.