White-Collar Crime

Lawyer gets one year in federal prison for his role in $14M mortgage fraud


A Pennsylvania lawyer has been sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for his role in a $14 million mortgage fraud that stripped homeowners in a suburban Philadelphia county of their equity.

Stephen G. Doherty was also ordered to forfeit $202,000 by U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin, which is the amount he and his law partner, Jeffrey A. Bennett, earned from the Bucks County scheme, Philly.com reports.

Bennett, a former member of the Doylestown Board of Supervisors, is scheduled to be sentenced Friday.

Prosecutors said the two, who pleaded guilty in February 2010 to conspiracy and fraud charges, aided a scheme by ringleaders John Bariana and Edward McCusker to strip equity from struggling homeowners by various techniques.

These techniques included identity theft and misrepresenting to those who agreed to sign off on forms that their “rent” payments to McCusker would eventually reinstate their mortgages. Victims instead wound up in foreclosure as the perpetrators failed to make payments on the new loans and walked away with their equity through mortgage refinancing schemes.

Bariana, McCusker and McCusker’s wife all await sentencing. Bariana took a plea in 2010, and the McCuskers were found guilty in a 2012 jury trial.

Earlier articles published by Philly.com and the Legal Intelligencer (sub. req.) provide additional details.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “2 Lawyers Among 5 Charged in Alleged $14.6M Mortgage Scheme”

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