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Westchester Man Admits Role In $3.5M 'Shotgunning' Scheme

Sentencing for both men was scheduled for Feb. 27.
Sentencing for both men was scheduled for Feb. 27. Photo Credit: File photo

A Westchester man admitted his role in a $3.5 million "shotgunning" scheme, Feds say on Friday.

Simon Curanaj, 62, of Yonkers took a guilty plea to conspiracy in federal court in Newark -- along with an accomplice, Michael Arroyo, 59 of the Bronx -- in exchange for leniency.

Both admitted using false information and simultaneous loan applications at several banks to fraudulently obtain home equity lines of credit, Acting U.S. Attorney for New Jersey William E. Fitzpatrick said.

From 2012 through January 2014, both said, they and others conspired to fraudulently obtain multiple home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) from banks on residential properties in New Jersey and New York, including a residential property on Havermeyer Avenue in the Bronx.

In 2013, Curanaj, Arroyo, and others transferred ownership of the property to an individual living at the property and his family friend, Fitzpatrick said.

The conspirators then applied, in the family friend’s name, for two HELOCs from two banks using the Havermeyer Avenue property as collateral, the U.S. attorney said.

They hid from the lenders the fact that the property was either already subject to senior liens that had not yet been recorded, or that the same property was offered as collateral for a line of credit from another lender, Fitazpatrick added.

The applications also falsely inflated the family friend’s income without his knowledge, he said.

The equity in the property was far less than the amount of the HELOC loans Curanaj, Arroyo, and others applied for, the U.S. attorney noted.

The victim banks eventually issued loans to the family friend in excess of $500,000.

Portions of the funds were then disbursed to Curanaj, Arroyo, and others, Fitzpatrick said. Eventually, the family friend defaulted on the two HELOC loans, he said.

Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Office of Inspector General and special agents of the FBI, with the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason S. Gould of Fitzpatrick's Criminal Division in Newark and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin DiGregory of the FHFA, Office of the Inspector General secured the pleas, he said.

Sentencing for both men was scheduled for Feb. 27.

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