A former area builder was led from Schenectady County Court in handcuffs Friday to start serving as many as four years in prison for bilking lenders out of more than $600,000.
Angelo Rossi, 48, appeared before Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago after pleading guilty earlier to second-degree attempted grand larceny.
At the sentencing, Rossi said little but appeared contrite, indicating agreement with the judge’s comments that he made a “terrible mistake.” The judge also referenced comments Rossi made in a presentence investigation, in which he took full responsibility for his actions.
At the same time, Drago admonished Rossi that behavior such as he admitted to will not be allowed.
“This wrong will not be tolerated,” she told him. “Obviously you’re going to state prison for it. I hope you will be able to move on with your life once you get out.”
Rossi was arrested in Florida in January after defrauding lenders out of $640,000. He did so, prosecutors from the New York state Attorney General’s Office said, by essentially tricking Countrywide Home Loans in 2006 into issuing mortgages on two properties in Duanesburg.
Rossi owed several creditors but still wanted to build two homes on lots on Hardin Road. To do so, he enlisted the help of two individuals to essentially borrow the money for him. Those individuals told lenders the homes would be their primary residences. In fact, they just funneled the loan money back to Rossi in exchange for payoffs of $5,000 each, officials said. The borrowers then defaulted on the loans.
Rossi started the two homes but never finished them. He also diverted funds from the homes to pay his own debts and moved to Florida.
Drago also ordered Rossi to pay more than $500,000 in restitution. He owes $368,000 to Countrywide, which recouped some of its losses by selling the partially finished homes. He owes $75,000 and $60,000 to two private lenders.
Rossi is expected to be able to start paying the restitution once he gets out of prison. His attorney, Peter J. Moschetti Jr., indicated in court that Rossi has a job waiting when he gets out.
Moschetti also indicated that the probation officer who completed the presentence investigation recommended Rossi for an intensive state “shock” program that could cut his time to as little as six months, though he would still have to go before a parole board to gain his release. A decision on whether Rossi would get into the shock program won’t be made until later.
Rossi served as chairman and owner of Rossi Construction Inc. in Rotterdam. He also had an office on Guilderland Avenue in Schenectady. He bought and sold real estate and also built homes in the region.
The case was prosecuted by the state Attorney General’s Office.