Marblehead Real Estate Attorney Found Liable for Facilitating Illegal Foreclosure Rescue Scheme
Banned from Acting as Closing Attorney in Real Estate Transactions
BOSTON – A Marblehead real estate attorney has been found liable for his involvement in a foreclosure rescue scheme that victimized distressed homeowners facing foreclosure and is now banned from acting as a closing attorney or title agent in any real estate transaction in Massachusetts, announced Attorney General Martha Coakley today.
“This judgment reflects the Commonwealth’s ongoing commitment to holding attorneys who facilitate mortgage fraud accountable for their conduct,” said Attorney General Coakley. “Closing attorneys should take note that if they put their personal financial interest ahead of their legal and ethical obligations, there will be consequences.”
Following a September 2011 trial, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet L. Sanders ruled that James Alberino knowingly and willfully engaged in unfair and deceptive conduct as alleged by the Commonwealth. The court found Alberino’s conduct “egregious” and particularly “reprehensible” given his status as a lawyer. The court ordered Alberino to pay the Commonwealth $70,000 in civil penalties and prohibited him from acting as a closing attorney or title agent in any real estate transaction in Massachusetts.
In March 2007, Attorney General Martha Coakley filed a complaint against 19 defendants, including mortgage broker Leo Desire, mortgage brokerage company Primary Mortgage Resources, Inc., and several closing attorneys, including Alberino, alleging they engaged in an unfair and deceptive foreclosure rescue scheme that caused distressed homeowners facing foreclosure to lose equity and titles to their homes. The complaint alleged Alberino facilitated the scheme in his capacity as a closing attorney by closing two mortgage loan transactions that he knew were sham transactions, willfully concealed the sham from his clients, the lenders, so that the transactions would proceed, and made false statements on federally-mandated HUD-1 Settlement Statements. The complaint further alleged that Alberino diverted sales proceeds from the distressed homeowners to his co-defendants and entities they controlled for services they performed fraudulently or not at all.
The September trial only concerned the AG’s charges against Alberino. The Commonwealth previously announced that it obtained judgments of more than $500,000 against Desire and 10 other defendants. The Commonwealth will seek a final judgment against the remaining seven defendants who failed to appear in court and were defaulted.
The trial was conducted by Assistant Attorneys General Amber Anderson Villa and Gillian Feiner with assistance from Paralegal Yolanda Kruczkowski and Investigators Nancy Ward and Monique Cascarano of Attorney General Coakley’s Investigations Division.