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Eastchester Man Convicted in Real Estate Scheme

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – Louis Cherico of Eastchester was convicted Tuesday in Federal Court on charges of bank fraud and money laundering. Cherico, 70, was acquitted of two additional counts of bank fraud and one count of obstruction of justice.

According to Federal Prosecutor Preet Bharara, of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Cherico, an attorney who practiced in New York City and Westchester County, participated in fraudulent real estate investment schemes from July 2002 through the end of 2002.

Bharara said the primary objective of the real estate investment scheme was the purchase of multi-million dollar residential properties in various communities in Westchester. The purchases were made with loans obtained through the submission of false and misleading information to banks and other lenders, Bharara said in a press release. Many of the loans were equal to, or in excess of, 100 percent of a property's actual sale price so the defendant and his co-conspirators did not have to put any of their own money at risk in the transactions.

Bharara explained that Cherico served as the attorney for various co-conspirators in negotiating and closing the fraudulent purchases that were part of the scheme. Cherico and his co-conspirators submitted various documents, including loan applications, contracts of sale, deeds, real estate transfer documents, and title reports to federally insured banks. Those documents contained false or misleading information about the income, assets, existing debt and credit worthiness of the borrower, the chain of title to the property, and the sale price of the home.

As a result of the scheme to defraud, Cherico and his co-conspirators obtained millions of dollars in loan proceeds, enabling them to control certain properties that they otherwise would not have been able to purchase and finance, Bharara said.

Cherico, Bharara said, also laundered the illegal proceeds obtained from the sale of one of the properties used in the mortgage fraud scheme by transferring the proceeds from a bank account he controlled to an account that was controlled by one of his co-conspirators. The transaction was designed to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, and control of the illegal proceeds.

Cherico faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison on a count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, 30 years in prison on each of three counts of bank fraud, and 20 years in prison on a money laundering count, as well as a maximum $1,000,000 fine.

He is due back in court for sentencing on March 6, 2012.

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