(Jason R. Bennitt/GC South)
A suspended Long Island attorney is one of four people accused of conspiring to bilk Bank of America out of more than $500,000 in a real estate scheme (See Indictment).
Nicholas Pellegrini of Garden City and three others were arrested Tuesday on an Eastern District indictment for charges of bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. They face up to 30 years in prison and forfeiture of $539,000.
In 2011, defendant Sofia Atias faced foreclosure on a property in Hempstead after defaulting on approximately $750,000 in a mortgage and home equity loan. An adjacent Catholic school, expressed interest in buying the property to expand its campus and Pellegrini and the other defendants allegedly negotiated a $925,000 sale. Later, Atias asked Bank of America for a short sale, claiming she had no ability to repay the full amount. The bank did not know of the defendant’s negotiations with the school and agreed to the sale, first stated to be $385,000 and later increased to $480,000. Prosecutors said the short sale buyer was an entity whose secretary and treasurer was Pellegrini’s wife, who was also charged.
“Through a web of lies and false documents, the defendants took advantage of a school’s desires to improve its students’ athletic facilities, lied to win concessions from a bank, and then lied again by ‘flipping’ the property and defrauding the bank of over half a million dollars,” Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, said in a statement.
In 2012, the Appellate Division, Second Department, suspended Pellegrini for two years in an unrelated matter.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Kelly represented the government. Stephen Scaring of Scaring & Carman in Garden City represents Pellegrini and his wife. Scaring said both pleaded not guilty at Tuesday’s arraignment.