LawFuel.com – 21 August, 2009 – PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the filing of an Indictment yesterday charging MARK M. BENUN with four counts of interstate transportation of the proceeds from the fraudulent
sale through mortgage fraud, for more than $5 million, of a
building at 161st Street in the Bronx.
According to the criminal Complaint and the Indictment
filed yesterday in Manhattan federal court:
BENUN represented himself to be the owner of MBM1
Owners LLC and was involved with several real estate transactions
in the New York metropolitan area. In June 2006, BENUN and a
real estate company operator (“co-purchaser”) purchased the
commercial property located at 67-79 E. 161st Street, near Yankee
Stadium, for approximately $9.5 million. BENUN bought the
property with $4.5 million in cash, contributed by BENUN’s copurchaser,
and a $5 million mortgage to be paid by BENUN and his
co-purchaser. BENUN and his co-purchaser later obtained an
additional $700,000 mortgage from the seller; BENUN additionally
obtained a $2 million line of credit from a bank, guaranteed by
his co-purchaser and secured by a further mortgage on the
property. BENUN had a 25% interest in the property, and his copurchaser
held the remaining 75% interest.
In 2009, BENUN, purporting to be the sole owner of the
property, sold it for approximately $5.96 million to another
buyer, who paid $4 million in cash and gave BENUN a note for the
remaining $1.96 million. Shortly after the sale, BENUN sold the
note for $1.46 million. To establish his apparent sole ownership
of the building, BENUN created false satisfactions of the three
mortgages on the property, and a fraudulent transfer of ownership
of his co-purchaser’s 75% interest in the property to BENUN.
BENUN persuaded a notary who worked across the hall from his
office to notarize the forgeries, claiming that the individuals whose signatures were on the documents were stuck in traffic.
Funds from the sale were traced to an account in the name of
BENUN’s company, MBM1 Owners LLC. Approximately $450,000 of
those funds were wired from MBM1’s New York account through
interstate wire transfers. In addition, BENUN withdrew
approximately $1.4 million of the proceeds from accounts he
controlled and purchased gold bars in New York, New York.
BENUN is charged with four counts of interstate
transportation of stolen property. If found guilty, BENUN faces
a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and a fine of the
greater of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss resulting
from the crime on each count, as well as the forfeiture of the
proceeds of his crimes.
BENUN, 35, of New York, New York, was arrested on April
20, 2009, and was presented before United States Magistrate Judge
KEVIN NATHANIEL FOX at that time. This case has been assigned to
United States District Judge VICTOR MARRERO.
Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative work of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney CHRISTOPHER D. FREY is
in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely
accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and
until proven guilty.