Attorney gets 30 months in mortgage case that brought down 2 lawyers and a paralegal
Posted Jun 3, 2013 5:05 PM CST
By Martha Neil
A Connecticut real estate lawyer and others with whom he schemed reportedly intended to sell upscale homes at a profit when they submitted fraudulent mortgage applications to get standard financing to pay off "hard money" purchase loans that carried high interest.
But the real estate scheme in the state's burgeoning Fairfield County was a noteworthy fail. After cooperating with the feds and testifying at trial against William Trudeau, a co-defendant portrayed as a ringleader in the scheme, attorney Joseph Kriz, 50, was sentenced Friday to 30 months in prison by a federal judge in New Haven, the Westport News reports.
Kriz pleaded guilty in 2008 to mail fraud; conspiracy to commit bank fraud; and fraud in loan and credit applications for conduct that reportedly included diverting some $3.5 million in interest on his IOLTA lawyer's trust account to cover mortgage payments, according to the Wilton Villager.
But for his cooperation, Kriz, who was also a certified public accountant and a licensed mortgage broker, could have gotten three times as much time, according to his lawyer, James Diamond.
"He's the one who brought the whole scheme to light," Diamond told the Westport newspaper. "He turned over all his files to the FBI and to the title insurance firms."
An FBI press release provides further details.
Also sentenced to 30 months in the scheme earlier this year was a paralegal, Healther Bliss, who is married to Trudeau. Meanwhile, Trudeau, who has a prior record, got nearly 18 years after being convicted at trial on some counts and acquitted on others, the Westport News reported earlier this year.
Attorney John Bryk was sentenced earlier this year to probation for his role, another Westport News article reports.
His lawyer, Richard T. Meehan, Jr., called Bryk a good and decent man who early on admitted wrongdoing and cooperated.
"He feels scarred for life," Meehan said of his client at the time.
ABAJournal.com: "Omission on HUD-1 Form Leads to Lawyer’s Guilty Plea in Federal Mortgage Fraud Case"
Newton, CT, Patch: "William Trudeau Jr. Sentenced to 188 Months In Prison"