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law and order
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A New York state couple is facing three or more years in jail for operating a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme in which the defendants recruited straw buyers to purchase a string of properties using fraudulent loan documents.

The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut broke up the scheme in an indictment that resulted in two federal sentences this week.

Winston Shillingford, 56, along with his wife Marleen Shillingford 47, were sentenced by a federal judge in Connecticut for operating the alleged scam.

According to SIGTARP, the Nesconset, N.Y.-based couple will spend four years and three years, respectively, in jail with Winston serving the longer sentence. 

The conspiracy included other players and 40 properties in Bridgeport, Conn.

The couple operated Waikele Properties Corp., which had offices in Bridgeport and Garden City, N.Y.

While running the company, the couple purchased existing multifamily homes and vacant land to erect new houses for the purpose of selling them off. They then recruited straw buyers to acquire those properties using false information on the loan documents to obtain lender funds. Proceeds from the scheme were then wired to the company and split up among the conspirators.

Many of the homes were never occupied and eventually ended up in default.

"The Shillingfords’ scheme is a perfect example of the behavior and the degree of greed and narcissism that contributed to our nation’s housing crisis," said Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for TARP (SIGTARP).

"The Shillingfords gobbled up real estate, recruited straw buyers to purchase the properties, and helped purchasers obtain mortgage loans for the properties from banks by falsifying information on their loan applications and submitting fraudulent documents, including fake pay stubs, bank records, and employment verification forms from fictitious employers."

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