An Albany attorney is the latest person to be caught up in two long-running mortgage fraud investigations, accused of aiding in schemes that authorities have said together resulted in millions of dollars in inflated mortgages and losses for banks.
Michael G. Bouchard, of the Albany-based Bouchard Law Firm, was indicted late last month in U.S. District Court in Albany on a total of 25 counts, including conspiracy and bank fraud. He is accused of officially representing the mortgage lenders at real estate closings, but really helping out those involved in the underlying schemes, according to the indictment.
He was arraigned and has pleaded not guilty. His attorney, Gaspar Castillo, said his client “absolutely denies” the allegations against him,
“The bottom line is, he denies having committed the crimes alleged in the indictment,” Castillo said, calling his client an honorable family man.
Bouchard was released on his own recognizance and continues to practice law, Castillo said.
The indictment was unsealed July 25 in Albany. In it, Bouchard is accused of helping in two separate mortgage fraud schemes, one related to firms called PB Enterprises and Greater Atlantic Associates and the other involving a firm called Team Title Abstractors. In both schemes, Bouchard is accused of filing false forms with the federal government and concealing how the money was actually disbursed, according to the indictment. The result would be an inflated price for the property and an inflated mortgage.
Bouchard is accused of assisting PB Enterprises and Greater Atlantic Associates on 44 occasions, while assisting Team Title Abstractors on 20 occasions, all while representing the lenders.
A total of 22 specific properties were cited, nine of them in Schenectady.
Castillo said he did not know why prosecutors were indicting Bouchard now. He said his client has cooperated fully with the investigation, even turning over his own files.
“We intend, no disrespect to the government, we intend to defend this case vigorously,” Castillo said. “I think at the end we’ll be able to show that he didn’t do these things.”
An investigation into Team Title Abstractors resulted in Matthew J. Kupic and Francis Thomas Disonell admitting to obtaining $3.6 million in excessive mortgages from 2000 to 2003. The mortgages then ended up in foreclosure. Both were sentenced in 2008 to two years in prison.
They admitted that they knew and willfully executed a scheme to defraud banks and other mortgage lenders by arranging to secure excessive mortgages for numerous homes by using fraudulent loan applications and settlement statements and diverting mortgage funds for their own use and to third parties.
They also admitted they identified below-market real estate for sale by owners that needed rehabilitation and located buyers for the properties with promises of ownership of income-producing property and the promise of money back at closing for necessary repairs.
Then, in August 2011, Kevin D. O’Connell, 62, admitted in federal court to a scheme involving PB Enterprises and Greater Atlantic Associates that involved 74 properties and $5 million in loans from 2003 to 2007. O’Connell’s sentencing is set for Sept. 19.
In O’Connell’s case, he admitted that he and others secured excessive mortgages for numerous residential properties through the use of fraudulent loan applications, prosecutors in that case have said. He made false statements and diverted mortgage funds for the personal use of members of the conspiracy without disclosure to the financial institutions and other mortgage lenders.
O’Connell provided checks representing short-term loans or “gift money” to prospective borrowers to give the false appearance to the lending institutions that those borrowers had funds to make them appear more creditworthy. In fact, it was never disclosed to the lending institutions that the funds were repaid shortly after the closing.