MANAGER OF MORTGAGE BROKERAGE FIRM, BRIDGEWATER FUNDING, LLC, SENTENCED TO 60 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR HIS PARTICIPATION IN A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR MORTGAGE FRAUD SCHEME

United States Attorney
Southern District of New York
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
AUGUST 1, 2011 ELLEN DAVIS,

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, announced that MICAH MEYERS was
sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 60 months in prison
for his role in a sub-prime mortgage fraud scheme involving
dozens of residential mortgages that totaled more than $10
million. MEYERS previously pled guilty to one count of
conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud on May 27, 2010. His
sentence was imposed by United States District Judge DEBORAH A.
BATTS.
According to court documents and proceedings:
From 2005 through 2007, MEYERS engaged in an illegal
scheme to defraud lenders by preparing and submitting
applications and supporting documentation for home mortgage loans
with false or misleading information, to induce them into making
loans that they otherwise would not have approved. MEYERS, a
former manager at Bridgewater Funding, LLC (“Bridgewater”), a
mortgage brokerage firm located in Islip, New York, submitted the
fraudulent loan applications through Bridgewater.
As part of the scheme, MEYERS identified properties for
sale primarily in New York City and Long Island (the “target
properties”). In some instances, he identified target properties
whose homeowners were facing foreclosure, and fraudulently
convinced them that selling their properties would be a way to
pay off their debts and save their homes. In other instances,
MEYERS identified target properties that he believed could be
resold quickly, or “flipped,” so that he would bear minimal risk
of loss should the properties’ values decline.
To further his scheme, MEYERS recruited individuals, or
“straw buyers” to act as purchasers of the target properties. In
exchange for fees paid by MEYERS, these individuals gave up
control over the target properties upon completion of the
mortgage closing. In some instances, MEYERS recruited his
friends and family members to be straw buyers. In other
instances, he recruited individuals with minimal real estate
experience.
Once a potential straw buyer had been identified and
agreed to purchase property in exchange for payment, MEYERS then
submitted loan applications to the lenders, through Bridgewater,
on behalf of the straw buyer. MEYERS typically obtained
mortgages on behalf of these straw buyers for amounts that were
greater than the actual sale price of the homes. To do so, he
misrepresented to the lenders various material facts about the
straw buyers’ income, assets, debts, and intent to live in the
properties they were purchasing, as well as the nature of the
transaction with the sellers. The difference between the amount
of the loans and the properties’ actual sale price (the “spread”)
represented, in part, MEYERS’ profits from the scheme.
Once the purchase of the target properties had been
funded, MEYERS often failed to make mortgage payments as he had
promised, causing some of the straw buyers to default on their
mortgages. As a result, mortgage lenders were forced either to
foreclose on those properties or to re-purchase the properties
from the straw buyers for less than the face amount of the loan.
This often left the original homeowner — who had been promised
that selling his or her home would be a way to save it — facing
eviction. With respect to other target properties, MEYERS rented
them to tenants and used the rent and other monies earned from
the scheme to make mortgage payments on behalf of the straw
buyers for a certain period of time before allowing the mortgages
to go into default. With respect to still other target
properties, MEYERS made mortgage payments for several months
before reselling, or “flipping,” the property to yet another
straw purchaser, who fraudulently obtained a new mortgage with
the defendant’s assistance, restarting the fraudulent scheme.
* * *
In addition to his prison term, Judge BATTS sentenced
MEYERS, 32, of Copiague, New York, to three years supervised
release and ordered him to forfeit $1,000,000.
Mr. BHARARA praised the work of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, the United States Secret Service, the Federal
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Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General, and
the United States Postal Inspection Service. He also thanked the
New York State Banking Department for its assistance in the
investigation.
This case was brought in coordination with President
BARACK OBAMA’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, on which
Mr. BHARARA serves as a Co-Chair of the Securities and
Commodities Fraud Working Group. President OBAMA established the
interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an
aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and
prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes
representatives from a broad range of federal agencies,
regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local
law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful
array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task
force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive
branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and
prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective
punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat
discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover
proceeds for victims of financial crimes.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex
Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney JULIAN J. MOORE is in
charge of the prosecution.
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