Article Courtesy of The
By David J. Neal
Published February 9, 2018
For directing a $20 million mortgage fraud in South
Beach and Fort Lauderdale, 46-year-old Marco Laureti was sentenced to 15
years in prison and five years of supervised release.
That makes one year of federal corrections oversight for each million
dollars of mortgage fraud.
Laureti, who was convicted of seven counts of wire fraud and one count
of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in November, also got hit with
$8,316,135 in restitution. It’s unclear how much of that, if any, will
reach Miami Beach’s Sunset Harbour South or Fort Lauderdale’s 45
Hendricks Isle, the two buildings slammed in the scam during the 2007-09
Two who said they played roles in the scheme under Laureti’s
supervision, Miami Lakes’ Michelle Cabrera and Hialeah’s Pedro Melian,
were sentenced in November after pleading guilty to one count of wire
fraud affecting a financial institution. For using her title company in
the scheme, Cabrera was sentenced to two years and one month of prison
time, followed by five years’ supervised release with $10,502,773.99 in
restitution. Melian, who provided a faux buyer (his mother) for one of
the 45 Hendricks Isle units, got five years’ probation with
$3,778,032.16 in restitution.
The Justice Department believes the remaining member of the fraudulent
foursome, Felix Mostelac, has likely skipped the country. Soon after
Mostelac scorched Sunset Harbour South and Washington Mutual Bank,
Interpol started looking for him.
Here’s how the scam worked, according to court documents:
A mortgage application fibbing about the buyer’s income, assets or down
payment (or all three) would be submitted to Washington Mutual.
Washington Mutual, which crumbled in the era’s economic collapse and
would be swept up by J.P. Morgan Chase, approved the loan. The bank sent
the money for the loan to Florida Title, Cabrera’s company. Some of that
money would be used for the cash down payment on the property. The
quartet would take what remained as criminal profit and walk away from
the whole deal.
That left the bank with no option but foreclosure (when it comes to
mortgages, banks really want the money, not the real estate). Before and
during the foreclosure process, that left the buildings without the
maintenance fees an owner would be paying. In that situation, buildings
either have to make special assessments or cut staff and services.
At Sunset Harbour South, they worked the scam on one of the units in the
tower suites, above the penthouse. They told Washington Mutual that
Mostelac would be putting up over $2.3 million from his pocket.
Washington Mutual approved the loan and wired the rest of the sale
price, $4.27 million. The group used that to pay the $2.3 million and
pocketed the remaining $1.9 million.
They did the same for three 45 Hendricks Isle units. And, when they
worked the scam on a two-story house, they built another floor onto the
Laureti was the listed buyer for 205 E. San Marino Dr., a 5,900-square
foot, 5-bedroom, 6 1/2-bathroom house. Of the $6.9 million selling
price, they got $5.2 million from Washington Mutual after saying Laureti
would make a $1.7 million down payment. After using $1.7 million of the
Washington Mutual money as the down payment, Cabrera sent another $1.2
million to Laureti’s company as “real estate commission.”