By Howard Koplowitz
Three members of a Richmond Hill family were convicted last week of defrauding 19 people, most of them members of the borough’s West Indian community, out of more than $1.8 million from mortgage and immigration scams, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
After a three-month jury trial in Queens Supreme Court, Shane Ramsundar, 52; his wife Gomatee Ramsundar, 47; and their daughter Shantal Ramsundar, 23, all of 101-35A 120th St. in Richmond Hill, were found guilty of grand larceny, money laundering, criminal impersonation and scheme to defraud.
The family members face “hundreds of years in prison” when they are sentenced by Queens Supreme Court Judge Kenneth Holder Jan. 11.
The three Ramsundars told the community Shane was a federal agent and a deeply religious Pandit who could get cheap, government-seized real estate properties in Florida, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and Jamaica, Brown said.
Shane Ramsundar kept up the appearance as a federal agent by using a real-looking gun, a badge and a false ID card, the DA said.
He and his wife claimed the government gave federal agents the first option to buy the properties seized from tax evaders and drug dealers on the cheap prior to public auction, Brown said.
Shane Ramsundar then told his victims he would purchase properties and obtain mortgages for them with his special government connections, then transfer the deeds over to them so that they could live in the homes or resell them at a profit, the DA said.
Checks were laundered through 11 bank accounts — eight belonging to Shantal Ramsundar and three belonging to the family’s race car repair company, Baba Boost Racing Inc. of Long Island City.
The family received more than $1.5 million from 11 victims in the mortgage scheme, Brown said.
“In their verdict, the jury has rightfully branded the defendants as con artists who preyed upon and unscrupulously exploited members of their own immigrant community who were in need of assistance,” Brown said in a statement. “Many of the victims thought they could trust the defendants because they were West Indian like themselves, lived in the community and went to area Hindu temples and local neighborhood hangouts.
“Instead, the victims were betrayed by the defendants who turned their American Dream into the American Nightmare.”
In the immigration fraud portion of the scheme, Shane Ramsundar posed as an FBI/ICE agent and convinced victims he could use his insider access to get people green cards, have them removed from deportation lists and even get them off terrorist watch lists in exchange for money, the DA said.
Gomatee Ramsundar aided her husband by convincing some of the victims that he could obtain the necessary immigration documents and was present when some of the victims turned over their money, Brown said.
The couple’s daughter also aided in the scheme by vouching that her father was an FBI agent and by cashing checks and laundering substantial amounts of the proceeds through bank accounts in her name, the DA said.
The Ramsundars received more than $300,000 from more than 12 victims, some of whom were also victims in the real estate scheme, Brown said.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.