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White-Collar Crime

2 Lawyers Among 5 Charged in Alleged $14.6M Mortgage Scheme

Posted Dec 8, 2009 3:56 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Two partners in a Pennsylvania law firm have been federally indicted along with three other defendants including two mortgage company owners in a wide-ranging alleged real estate fraud scheme.

Jeffrey Bennett and Stephen Doherty of Doylestown-based Bennett & Doherty are charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering and Doherty is also charged with bankruptcy fraud, reports Dow Jones Newswires.

Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia say the $14.6 million scheme involved 35 fraudulent loans, real estate deals in which purchases were made by straw buyers and false promises of help to homeowners trying to stave off foreclosure.

If convicted, Doherty could get a maximum of 385 years in prison and $4 million in fines and Bennett faces as much as 240 years and $3.2 million in fines.

They were not available for comment, the article says.

However, an attorney representing Bennett says in an October article in the Intelligencer about a civil real estate fraud case that none of the allegations have been proven and that he expects Bennett and Doherty to be vindicated.

"These are allegations. And now you have others wanting to join in hoping they hit a lucky number too," says Bennett's lawyer, George Bochetto of Bochetto & Lentz in Philadelphia. "Jeff Bennett is a fine, fine attorney who's always worked hard on behalf of homeowners in tough situations."

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