MortgageReal Estate

Attorney gets 30 months for conspiring to steal distressed borrowers’ homes

Convinced struggling borrowers to vacate, then rented houses out on Craigslist

An attorney will spend the next 30 months in federal prison after being convicted for his role in a scheme that effectively stole the homes of distressed homeowners under the guise of helping the borrowers avoid foreclosure, before turning around and renting the homes out through Craigslist.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut, Bradford Barneys, an attorney licensed to practice in Connecticut, participated in a “long-running fraud scheme” that targeted distressed homeowners throughout Connecticut.

Court documents showed that between 2011 and 2014, Barneys took part in dozens of meetings at his office with Timothy Burke and a number of distressed borrowers.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Burke pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of mail fraud and one count of tax evasion and was sentenced to 108 months in prison for his role in the scheme.

Between 2010 and 2015, Burke perpetrated a scheme to defraud individuals, lenders, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development by falsely telling homeowners who were in, or facing, foreclosure that he would purchase their homes and pay off their mortgages.

According to court documents, Burke would convince the struggling borrowers to sign various documents that stated that they would be able to walk away from their homes without any repercussions.

Burke also told the homeowners to ignore any foreclosure notices because the process of negotiating with the lenders can take time.

Then, after he gained control of the houses, Burke placed ads on Craigslist and rented the properties after falsely representing to the tenants that he owned the property.

Once Burke had the tenants in place, he or one his associates collected rent from the tenants and used the money for his own benefit, rather than paying off the distressed borrower’s mortgage.

Burk also did not negotiate with the homeowner’s mortgage lender or pay expenses associated with the home, including the homeowner’s mortgages and property taxes.

According to court documents, the mortgage lender in question ultimately foreclosed many of the properties Burke supposedly purchased.

Barneys took part in the scheme by hosting meetings at his office, before eventually taking a larger role in the scheme.

Court documents showed that at some point, Barneys began representing Burke in the meetings with homeowners, despite Barneys’ knowledge that Burke had no intention of buying the properties and paying the outstanding mortgages on the properties.

During those meetings, Barneys falsely represented that these transactions were legitimate.

Additionally, when asked by homeowners about the status of their sales, Barneys would assure them that their dealings with Burke or one of his companies were operating just as Burke promised.

Eventually, Barneys also represented Burke and his companies in eviction proceedings against tenants.

Barneys pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

In addition to receiving a sentence of 30 months in prison, Barneys must serve three years of supervised release upon his exit from prison.

Additionally, Barneys’ law license has been suspended and the judge ordered him to not apply for reinstatement, and not to engage in any business related to real estate, while he is on supervised release

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