United States Attorney
Southern District of New York


PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, announced that real estate
attorney CHEDDI GOBERDHAN was sentenced today in Manhattan
federal court to five years in prison for his role in a massive
mortgage fraud scheme involving loans totaling $23 million on
over 44 properties in the New York area. GOBERDHAN received
millions of dollars in illicit funds from the scheme, in which he
worked closely with corrupt loan officers of GuyAmerican Funding,
a mortgage brokerage firm in Queens, New York. He previously
pled guilty to one count of conspiring to commit bank and wire
fraud and six counts of bank fraud on January 10, 2011. U.S.
District Judge SHIRA A. SCHEINDLIN imposed today’s sentence.
U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA said: “Cheddi Goberdhan
made a small fortune by playing every angle of this mortgage
fraud scheme, ripping off banks and exploiting home buyers and
sellers. His legal skills were the tools of his fraud. As with
his co-conspirators, he will now go to prison and pay for his
According to the Superseding Indictment to which
GOBERDHAN pled guilty, other court documents, and statements made
in court:
GOBERDHAN and his co-conspirators participated in a
wide-ranging mortgage fraud scheme operated through GuyAmerican
Funding in Jamaica, New York. As part of the scheme, the coconspirators
arranged home sales between “straw buyers” –- people
who were tricked into taking on mortgages for homes they never
intended to live in or own –- and homeowners in financial
distress who were willing to sell their homes. Corrupt
GuyAmerican loan officers obtained mortgage loans for the sham
deals by submitting fraudulent applications to banks and lenders,
and using fraudulent representations about the supposed buyers’
net worth, employment, income, and plans to live in the homes.
The co-conspirators kept substantial amounts of the mortgage
proceeds for themselves, while the “straw buyers” ultimately
defaulted on the mortgages, causing millions in losses to the
banks and lenders. GOBERDHAN’s co-conspirators in the scheme
included, among others, the president of GuyAmerican (DAVID
RAMNAUTH), GuyAmerican loan officers (PEGGY PERSAUD, ORETTE
recruited homeowners and “straw buyers” (ELTON LORD, RAFICK
BAKSH, MAHAMOOD HUSSAIN), and another real estate lawyer (RAVI
GOBERDHAN acted as the bank’s attorney and/or the straw
buyers’ attorney on dozens of fraudulent mortgage loans
originated through GuyAmerican, including loans in which the same
straw buyer was used to purchase multiple homes within a short
period of time. As bank attorney, GOBERDHAN created and sent
false documents to the banks, received the loan money into his
attorney account, and siphoned off huge amounts of that money for
himself and his co-conspirators. He also structured highly
lucrative “flip” sales in which he arranged for properties to be
bought and sold in a sham sale the same day at a far higher
price, stealing the difference. Furthermore, in order to fool
the banks into thinking the properties were on firm financial
footing in the first few months after closing, GOBERDHAN secretly
wrote checks from the mortgage proceeds to a co-conspirator so
she could make several months of mortgage payments on the homes
before letting them fall into foreclosure. Meanwhile, many of
the straw buyers “represented” by Goberdhan were not even aware
that he was supposed to be their attorney in these transactions.
GOBERDHAN also acted as the conspiracy’s “legal”
advisor, advising the corrupt loan officers at GuyAmerican on how
to structure the sham deals in order to avoid legal scrutiny.
For example, he advised KILLIKELLY on how to pay straw buyers
small amounts of money from the mortgage proceeds without raising
suspicion, and he created and wrote checks to, a shell
corporation for KILLIKELLY to use for this purpose.
* * *
In addition to his prison term, Judge SCHEINDLIN
sentenced GOBERDHAN, 57, of Elmont, New York, to three years of
supervised release, imposed an order of forfeiture in an amount
to be determined at a later date, a restitution order in the
amount of $4,698,500, and a special assessment of $100.
While imposing the sentence, Judge SCHEINDLIN said
GOBERDHAN “took advantage of some of the poorest people in his
community” and that “many people were swindled by this fraud.”
ELTON LORD, who pled guilty on August 4, 2010, was
sentenced on January 13, 2011, to 46 months in prison and three
years of supervised release. The Court also imposed an order of
forfeiture in the amount of $1.4 million in forfeiture and a
restitution order of $1.7 million.
GEORGE ESSO, who was convicted after a two-week trial
on August 26, 2010, was sentenced on February 4, 2011, to 12
months in prison and three years of supervised release. The
Court also imposed an order of forfeiture in the amount of
$30,000 and a restitution order of $420,000.
RAVI PERSAUD was convicted after a trial and sentenced
to time served.
RAJNARINE SINGH previously pled guilty but have not yet been
* * *
Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA praised the
investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and
thanked it for its assistance in this case.
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 authofrities, 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 prosecuted by the Office’s Complex
Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys NICOLE FRIEDLANDER and
ANTONIA M. APPS are in charge of the prosecution.
11-160 ###

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