Aaron Dare and his fiancée were arraigned on Friday on a 59-count felony indictment charging them with grand larceny and money laundering as part of an alleged real estate scheme.
Both pleaded innocent and were sent to the Albany County Jail.
The indictment, unsealed in Albany County Court, alleges that between January 2005 and August 2007, Dare and Ana Paula Monteiro stole more than $1.6 million by obtaining mortgages on two dozen properties and diverting the money for their own benefit.
Dare, the former head of the Northeastern Urban League, carried a Bible with him into the courtroom on Friday and sat quietly with Monteiro in the back of the courtroom before he was summoned to the bench.
The most recent indictment stems from information state police received in July 2007 about suspicious loans in Albany. Police received the tip from a company that buys and sells existing mortgages. They researched the loans and found that they were connected to Dare and Monteiro.
According to authorities, Dare and Monteiro allegedly obtained new mortgages using “phantom downpayments,” justified by inflated appraisals. The proceeds of the new inflated mortgages did not go to pay off existing mortgages.
Properties were multi-family rentals and Dare and Monteiro acted as the property managers, collecting the rents for local and out-of-area investors, according to prosecutors.
Acting Supreme Court Justice Daniel Lamont called the indictment against Dare a “serious upgrade of charges” from prior state charges against him.
Assistant District Attorney Christopher P. Baynes asked the judge to set bail at $200,000 for Dare because he poses a flight risk.
But Dare’s attorney, Matthew Alpern, objected and said Dare had voluntarily appeared in court, is subject to electronic monitoring, which means he’s confined to his home, has congestive heart failure and needs constant monitoring and care.
Alpern also said Dare could not receive a fair trial in Albany County because of the negative publicity he’s received.
After some back and forth between the defense and prosecutor, Lamont set bail at $100,000 for Dare.
Dare glanced over at Monteiro before he was led from the courtroom and sent to the Albany County Jail.
It marked the latest court appearance for Dare, once seen as a rising star in Arbor Hill and the former head of the Urban League of Northeastern New York.
He pleaded guilty in April to real estate fraud just before his trial was expected to begin, and in November 2006 he pleaded guilty to federal charges of fraud and conspiracy stemming from more than $8 million in federal loans used in a scheme to obtain financing for housing projects.
Monteiro, 30, who has been with Dare for five years, was first arrested in May on charges stemming from the sale of a home on First Street that she bought in the fall of 2005. At the time, she was released on $12,000 bail.
Baynes said Monteiro also posed a flight risk because she was not born in the United States, and he requested the same bail as Dare’s.
But Monteiro’s attorney, Cheryl Coleman, said Monteiro had lived in this country since 1981, has no criminal history and when she was asked to surrender, “she did so promptly.”
Lamont set bail at $50,000, and Monteiro was handcuffed and smiled as she was led from the courtroom.
Coleman said Monteiro was another one of Dare’s “victims.” She said that prosecutors were punishing Monteiro because of her association with Dare.
“Ana was a young girl, a college student who fell in love with Aaron Dare,” Coleman said. “She had no intent to rip people off — she just didn’t. She was thrown into a world that was foreign to her.”
Coleman said going after Monteiro is part of the prosecutor’s agenda.
“It was handled nastily. I told her to look them in the eye and not give them anything because that’s what they want to see,” said Coleman.
She said the relationship between Dare and Monteiro was complicated and there were a lot of feelings of ambivalence.
“She never had the type of intent that is required as the mental state for these crimes. She is being labeled by prosecution as guilty by association, which is not sufficient under the law,” said Coleman
District Attorney P. David Soares said he had promised he would aggressively pursue dozens of complaints against Dare that have caused irreparable damage to the city’s citizens and neighborhoods.
“Although there is the presumption of innocence, it is my belief that the evidence will support the indictment that was unsealed this morning in court. Hundreds of people in the region have been negatively impacted by the actions of these two individuals, and everyone in Albany County is now paying higher taxes because of their fraudulent activities,” Soares said in a statement.
The properties in question included: 8 Quail St.; 55 N. Manning Blvd.; 84 Lark St.; 158 Lark St.; 61 Catherine St.; 72 Catherine St.; 73 Catherine St.; 113 Clinton St.; 163 Dove St.; 347 Third St.; 350 Third St.; 380, 388, 464, 779, 790 Livingston Ave.; 382, 386 First St.; 119 Broad St.; 25 Alexander St.; 73 Judson St.; 198 and 443 Second St.; and 64 Amity St. in Cohoes.
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Schenectady County