A disbarred lawyer was sentenced to five years in prison and fined $50,000 Tuesday for falsifying mortgage applications so banks would lend money to unqualified home buyers.
Mark Bellotti, formerly a Matawan solo, had pleaded guilty on Feb. 21 to conspiracy and theft by deception. Prosecutors said he gave false information about employment, earnings and bank account balances on applications so that seven loans totaling $2.67 million would go through. He also falsified U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development settlement forms.
Bellotti was part of a group charged in an indictment that stemmed from an investigation by the Financial and Computer Crimes Bureau of the state Division of Criminal Justice.
Bellotti, Jonathan Domash of Marlboro and Leonardo Hernandez of Hillsborough submitted fraudulent loan applications and HUD documents to obtain mortgages for homes in Asbury Park, Hillsborough, Plainfield, Marlboro, Keansburg and Newark.
Domash would find owners eager to sell, then convince buyers to acquire the homes as investment properties through his company, Diversified Assets LLC. He had buyers sign blank loan applications so he and the other defendants could fill in falsified personal financial information.
The defendants inflated the properties’ sales prices and took out large fees from the loan proceeds at closing, the state alleged.
Bellotti handled the closings.
All of the homes ultimately fell into foreclosure, and some buyers had their credit ruined. “This lawyer and his co-conspirators falsified mortgage applications so they could siphon away big closing fees, while leaving behind a trail of foreclosed properties and borrowers with ruined credit,” says Stephen Taylor, director of the Division of Criminal Justice.
Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Anthony Mellaci Jr. imposed the sentence on Bellotti.
Domash and Hernandez pleaded guilty on Feb. 21 to theft by deception, Domash in the third degree, drawing three years’ probation, and Hernandez as a disorderly persons offender. Charges are pending against three other individuals who allegedly assisted Bellotti and Domash.
Bellotti was temporarily suspended from practice on March 6 and disbarred by consent on Aug. 7.
Bellotti served as township administrator in Union Township, Union County, from 1998 to 2000, according to the New Jersey Lawyers Diary and Manual.
He was represented in the criminal case by Union solo Neil Duffy, whose office phone has been disconnected.
Deputy Attorney General Valerie Noto represented the state.