Attorney in housing fraud scheme suspended from law for six years

Attorney Bradford Barneys, who admitted at his sentencing in U.S. District Court in July that he "put a stain on the legal profession" when he took part in a mortgage fraud scam, has been suspended from practicing law in Connecticut for six years.

Barneys, 51, of Odenton, Md., was sentenced to 30 months in prison for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. He had pleaded guilty to conspiring with convicted con artist Timothy Burke to defraud distressed homeowners throughout Connecticut in a long-running scam.

Barneys' license had been suspended on an interim basis in April. Superior Court Judge Antonio C. Robaina imposed the six-year suspension on Sept. 20, according to the Judicial Branch. The suspension is retroactive to April.

Barneys had come to Connecticut in 2010 to start anew after being disbarred from practicing law in Maryland, New York and Washington, D.C., for violating the rules of professional conduct in those states, according to court documents and testimony. He said at his sentencing hearing that the first person he ran into was Burke of Easton and, before he knew it, he was deeply involved in a criminal enterprise.

Barneys and Burke were the subject of a series of stories published by The Day beginning in November 2014. The scheme involved homeowners in Bridgeport, New London, Griswold, Ledyard, Waterbury, Plymouth, Portland, Andover, New Haven and West Haven. The Day's investigation found more than a half-dozen cases in which Burke and his associates sent out mass mailings to people whose homes were in foreclosure, then allegedly bilked them out of thousands of dollars after promising to purchase their homes and free them of their mortgages.

Burke collected rent from tenants and used the funds for his own benefit. He failed to negotiate with the homeowners' mortgage lenders or pay expenses associated with the homes, including the mortgages and property taxes, and he failed to pay any rental income he was collecting to the homeowners. Many of the properties Burke purportedly purchased ultimately were foreclosed upon by the mortgage lender.

Barneys met with both homeowner and tenant victims, with and without Burke, to explain, sign and witness documents such as quitclaim deeds, management agreements, indemnification agreements, third party authorizations and leases.

Barneys assured the victims of the legitimacy of the deals after they became concerned and evicted tenants who were late on their rent, according to the government. When they threatened legal action, he worked to settle the cases.

Burke is serving a nine-year prison sentence.

k.florin@theday.com

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