Norwich contractor sentenced in mortgage fraud

Norwich construction and landscaping contractor Brian Guimond was sentenced Thursday in Hartford's U.S. District Court to more than two years in prison for his role in a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud led by Jose Guzman of Waterford.

Senior Judge Alfred V. Covello sentenced the 45-year-old Guimond to 27 months in prison followed by a year of supervised release. Covello also ordered Guimond to pay restitution totaling more than $7.8 million.

According to a summary of the case provided by U.S. Attorney David B. Fein's office, Guimond was accused of conspiring with Guzman to submit false verification forms testifying that borrowers worked at his company, The Cutting Edge Contracting Inc., which had offices in Norwich and New London.

"Guzman and others falsified closing records, including false work invoices from The Cutting Edge, and caused checks to be issued at the closing made payable to The Cutting Edge, from funds provided by the lenders, purportedly to pay for work that had been done on the property prior to the closing when little or no work had been performed," according to the case summary.

Funds advanced by lenders to make property improvements were actually used to pay off members of the conspiracy, including Guimond, according to prosecutors.

Guimond was part of the Guzman-led conspiracy from 2004 to 2007 that bought properties mostly in New London County and then extracted inflated mortgages from lenders based on false information. No payments were made on the mortgages, and members of the conspiracy pocketed much of the money.

"The government believes that more than 200 fraudulent mortgages were funded through this mortgage fraud scheme, causing more than $9 million in losses to lenders," according to the case summary.

Guimond pleaded guilty in October 2008 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. Guzman, one of 15 others to have pleaded guilty as part of the conspiracy, still awaits sentencing.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Office of Inspector General, investigated the case, which was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael S. McGarry and David T. Huang.

The Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force, formed by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI, is charged with investigating and prosecuting mortgage fraud cases in the state. To report suspicious activity, call (203) 333-3512 and request the Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force, or email ctmortgagefraud@ic.fbi.gov.

l.howard@theday.com


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