Three men and a corporation have been indicted by a Queens grand jury in a home foreclosure scam for allegedly stealing nearly $400,000 using forged documents, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Jonathan Marcus, 53, of Long Beach, Vincent Longobardi, 76, of Brooklyn, Edward Doran, 46, of Orange County and East Coast Money Finders, Inc. were arraigned Wednesday, April 6, before Queens Supreme Court Justice Michelle Johnson on a 12-count indictment charging them with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, falsifying business records and other crimes.
According to the charges, between April 2010 and January 2016, three separate written inquiries were made to the NYC Department of Finance about unclaimed surplus funds related to the 2006 foreclosure auction of a house in Cambria Heights. In April 2010, defendant Longobardi contacted the department to confirm that surplus funds related to the 2006 foreclosure sale were being held.
Another inquiry was made by Marcus in February 2012 and December 2015, Longobardi allegedly filed a third request on behalf of East Coast Money Finders. In January 2016, defendant Doran contacted the NYC Department of Finance to inquire about missing documentation necessary to claim the surplus money, and Marcus followed up a few days later by submitting the missing documentation.
Katz said in April 2015, East Coast Money Finders allegedly filed a motion in Queens County Supreme Court claiming it was assigned rights to the surplus funds totaling nearly $350,000. In support of this motion, two documents purportedly signed by the rightful owners of the house, and Marcus, who was and still is the president of East Coast Money Finders were filed with the court. The purported signatures of the victim and her late husband on these forged documents were notarized by Doran.
According to the charges, the motion outlined that the surplus funds which were in excess of the amount owed on the home that was foreclosed on and sold at auction would be divided by the company and the couple who had once owned the home.
After the defendants provided the NYC Department of Finance with all the necessary paperwork, including a court order that was based on the forged documents authorizing the distribution of the funds, an NYC Department of Finance check for $394,216 was deposited from the account. Several thousand dollars were also allegedly transferred from the East Coast Money Finders, Inc. account to the personal bank account of Marcus.
According to the investigation, the scheme was revealed in January 2021, when the widow who owned the home with her husband at the time of the 2006 foreclosure sale attempted to claim the surplus funds for herself from the NYC Department of Finance. Neither the 67-year-old woman nor her husband when he was alive signed any documents giving anyone else access to the funds. The victim said neither she nor her late husband received any of the $350,000 that was disbursed in February 2016.
“My Office will continue to investigate, prosecute and seek justice for victims when scammers try to take advantage of Queens homeowners,” Katz said. “As alleged, the defendants plotted for years to illegally claim a nearly $400,000 surplus from a foreclosure sale of a house in Cambria Heights, funds that rightly belonged to the original owners. The defendant supported their claim with phony documents containing the victims’ forged signatures. The defendants are now charged with serious crimes.”
Justice Johnson ordered the defendants to return to court on May 10. The three men face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. East Coast Money Finders, Inc. faces a fine of up to $778,000, or double the amount it profited from the crimes.