MANHATTAN U.S. ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES CHARGES AGAINST FOURTEEN DEFENDANTS IN $58 MILLION MORTGAGE FRAUD SCHEME INVOLVING LONG ISLAND MORTGAGE BROKER FIRST CLASS EQUITIES

August 3 2011 – PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and JANICE K. FEDARCYK, the Assistant Director-In-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the filing of a five-count Indictment charging GERARD CANINO, IAN KATZ, OMAR GUZMAN, JAMES VIGNOLA, HENRY RICHARDS, ROBERT THORNTON, NEAL SULTZER, MICHAEL RAPHAN, MICHAEL SCHLUSSEL, JACQUELYN TODARO, KEVIN HYMOWITZ, MICHAEL CHARLES, RALPH DELGIORNO, and PANDORA BACON in connection with their roles in a mortgage fraud scheme involving over 100 home mortgages loans valued at more than $58 million on residential properties in the New York City area, Westchester County, Dutchess County, and Long Island. These loans were made through the mortgage brokerage firm First Class Equities (“FCE”), of Long Island. Among those charged are CANINO, the President and owner of FCE, five loan officers (KATZ, GUZMAN, VIGNOLA, RICHARDS and THORNTON), and four attorneys and one disbarred lawyer (SULTZER, RAPHAN, TODARO, HYMOWITZ, and SCHLUSSEL). Many of the properties involved in these transactions are now in default or foreclosure.

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