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Sewickley woman sentenced to 10 years for mortgage fraud

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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.

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