CaribWorldNews, QUEENS, NY, Fri. May 14, 2010: A Guyanese-born, Richmond-Hill, Queens-based attorney and one time challenger for a New York City Council seat was among 17 others charged Thursday in a multi-million dollar real estate fraud case.
The Queens District Attorney`s Office yesterday named Trevor Rupnarain, a one-time candidate for the 28th Councilmatic seat in the New York City Council race, as one of 16 others who allegedly worked as part of a scheme that targeted distressed homeowners in mortgage rescue scams.
DA Richard Brown said Rupnarain, 48, of 114-28 149th Avenue, South Ozone Park, who maintains a law office at 131-02 Liberty Avenue and previously at 117-15 101st Avenue, both in Richmond Hill, Queens, was one of two attorneys who worked to allegedly defraud legitimate homeowners and various lending institutions out of more than $3 million in equity that had been stripped from 26 refinanced residential properties valued at $13 million.
Many of the loans subsequently went into default, leaving lending institutions with insufficient collateral and substantial losses, or into foreclosure, leaving homeowners, in some cases, homeless.
Rupnarain is also a registered real estate broker and owner of Remax Xcel Realty located at 131-02 Liberty Avenue.
Twelve of the defendants are in custody and five are presently being sought. Among them are the two accused ringleaders – Roger Huggins and Inderpaul Sookraj, who owned and operated a Richmond Hill, Queens, company that went by various names including Home Solutions Management, Home Solutions Enterprises and Home Solutions Limited and held itself out to be a home foreclosure rescue company.
It is further alleged that both Huggins and Sookraj also owned shell corporations which were created, in part, to launder the ill-gotten gains from the foreclosure rescue scam. Huggins was also allegedly employed as a loan officer with the defendant DMV Mortgage, a licensed mortgage brokerage firm owned by defendant Mangal Singh, who allegedly received a share of the profits of the alleged scheme from Huggins and Sookraj.
It is additionally charged that Huggins and Sookraj stole the property deeds of at least two homes outright by fraudulently creating documents – complete with such identifying information of the homeowners as their social security numbers, dates of birth and driver`s licenses – which
purported that the homeowner had sold their homes to Huggins and Sookraj, who then turned around and sold the properties to straw buyers. The homeowners neither had any knowledge of the fraudulent transactions, nor did they realize that their home had been stolen. In both instances, the original homeowners allegedly had met Huggins when he offered to assist them with the `short sale` of their properties.
In one case, the homeowner had gone to Huggins because he had lost his job and his wife was stricken with cancer.
In furtherance of the scheme, Huggins and Sookraj allegedly had two attorneys – Rupnarain and Shawn Chand – representing lending institutions, buyers or sellers at various Home Solution property closings. The two attorneys are alleged to have concealed the true nature of the transactions from their clients and distributed fraudulently obtained loan proceeds to themselves, as well as to other defendants and entities on behalf of Huggins and Sookraj.
They are also charged with fraudulently preparing various financial and real estate documents.
Others charged include Anand Bharat, 54, of 94-38 216th Street, Queens Village; Prahalad Mahadeo, 32, of 89-15 205th Street, South Richmond Hill; Mangal Singh, 57, whose last known address was 774 Regent Drive, Westbury, Ariel Huggins, 36, of 92-06 Springfield Boulevard, Queens Village, Mohammad Abdallah,37, of 106-19 Guy R. Brewer Boulevard, Jamaica, Michael Abdul, 44, whose last known address was 107-12 129th Street, South Richmond Hill, Faiz Ali, 46, of 101-67 121st Street, South Richmond Hill, Queens; Jagdesh Kuldip, 31, of 245-28 147th Road, Rosedale, Purnima Mahammed; 29, of 102-12 135th Street, South Richmond Hill, Aneesa Mohammed, 30, is believed to be in Florida; Krishna Ramroop, 56, of 102-12 135th Street, South Richmond Hill, Vadianuth Sanichar, 44, of 97-14 129th Street, Richmond Hill and David Sookdeo, 29, of 144-07 168th Street, Jamaica.
Anessa Mohammed and Abdul are being sought.
The 17 defendants are variously charged with first- and second-degree grand larceny, first degree criminal possession of stolen property, first-degree money laundering, first-degree identity theft, second-degree forgery, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, first-degree falsifying business records, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, first-degree scheme to defraud and fourth-degree criminal facilitation.
If convicted, the defendants face as much as 25 years in prison.
`In trying to hide their elaborate scheme from law enforcement and regulatory scrutiny, the two main defendants are alleged to have used unscrupulous attorneys and straw buyers and the fragmented structure of the real estate settlement process to funnel millions of dollars through various shell corporations that they either owned or which were controlled by other defendants,` said DA Brown.
`Money loss aside, the defendants are accused of creating a human tragedy of immense proportions for the homeowners who had turned to them in a desperate hope of saving their homes from foreclosure.`