For Immediate Release - December 18, 2009

Marblehead Attorney Arrested in Connection with Million Dollar Mortgage Hijacking Scheme

BOSTON - Massachusetts State Police assigned to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office arrested Marblehead lawyer Leon Gelfgatt yesterday as he allegedly attempted to retrieve over $1.3 million dollars in mortgage funds in connection with a sophisticated mortgage fraud scheme. Gelfgatt, allegedly used false documents to create the appearance that mortgages on several Massachusetts properties which were scheduled for impending sale had been transferred to a fake company allegedly created by Gelfgatt. Gelfgatt allegedly did this in order to obtain the payoff funds sent by real estate closing attorneys when the properties were sold.

Gelfgatt will be arraigned this morning in Cambridge District Court in Medford. He is charged with attempted larceny, and uttering (2 counts).

According to authorities, Gelfgatt allegedly identified properties which were under agreement and scheduled for an imminent sale. He then allegedly recorded false documents at the Registry of Deeds indicating that his fake company was the new holder of any mortgages on those properties. He allegedly sought through this scheme to cause mortgage payoff funds to be delivered to the fake company, rather than to the rightful mortgage holders.

Gelfgatt was arrested today without incident by State Police assigned to the Attorney General's Office at a location in Boston where he was attempting to retrieve the payoff checks.

This arrest is the result of an intensive and ongoing investigation utilizing state-of-the art tools and techniques into fraudulent assignments recorded at several Registries of Deeds within Massachusetts. At this time, investigators believe that Gelfgatt may have fraudulently reassigned numerous other mortgages. The case is being prosecuted by Division Chief James O'Brien and Assistant Attorneys General Margaret Parks and Andrew Doherty, all parts of Attorney General Coakley's Corruption and Fraud Division. The case is being investigated by members of the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General's Office as well as James McFadden of the Financial Investigation Unit.

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