PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, announced that MARK M. BENUN was
sentenced today by United States District Judge VICTOR MARRERO to
51 months in prison for perpetrating a mortgage fraud scheme
involving the sale of a $5.9 million building on 161st Street in
the Bronx. BENUN previously pleaded guilty to four counts of
interstate transportation of stolen property on December 11,
2009, before United States Magistrate Judge ANDREW J. PECK.
According to the Complaint, Indictment, and statements
made at BENUN’s guilty plea and sentencing:
During the course of the mortgage fraud scheme, BENUN
represented himself to be the owner of a company called MBM1
Owners LLC. As described below, BENUN was involved in several
real estate transactions in the New York metropolitan area
through which he perpetrated the fraud.
In June 2006, BENUN and a real estate company operator
(the “co-purchaser”) purchased a 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 that was contributed by the co-purchaser, and a $5 million
mortgage to be paid by BENUN and the co-purchaser. The next
month, BENUN and the co-purchaser obtained an additional $700,000
mortgage from the seller, and several months after that, BENUN
obtained a $2 million line of credit from a bank, guaranteed by
the co-purchaser and secured by a further mortgage on the
property. BENUN held a 25 percent interest in the property; the
co-purchaser held the remaining 75 percent 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 the co-purchaser’s 75 percent 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 City.
In addition to the prison term, Judge MARRERO sentenced
BENUN, 35, to three years of supervised release and ordered him
to pay forfeiture in the amount of $5.486 million.
Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative work of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Complex
Frauds Unit. Assistant United States Attorney CHRISTOPHER D.
FREY is in charge of the prosecution.