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Groton man gets three-month sentence for mortgage fraud

Four people, including a Groton man, have been sentenced for their roles in a New London-centered mortgage fraud led by Syed A. "Ali" Babar, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced today.

Among those sentenced in Hartford Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Alvin W. Thompson was 29-year-old Wilson Nicolas of Groton, who pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for allowing his name to be used on mortgage applications to buy two properties in New Haven at fraudulently inflated prices. Wilson was sentenced to three months of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay restitution of more than $270,000.

According to his indictment, Nicolas served as a straw buyer in Babar-led purchases of homes at 243 Starr St. for $175,000 and 88 Hazel St. for $180,000.

"Babar had instructed Nicolas to open a joint bank account with an individual whom Nicolas did not know in order to give the appearance Nicolas had access to more money than he actually had," according to a summary of the case provided by the U.S. Attorney's Office Nicolas received $40,000 in cash from a co-conspirator and later returned $8,000 to the co-conspirator to be used in another real estate transaction."

Nicolas defaulted on both loans and never occupied either house, according to prosecutors.

Others tied to the Babar conspiracy were Alicia Martineau, 25, of West Haven, a straw buyer who was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of a little over $100,000; Lisa Depa, 26, of Middletown, a straw buyer who was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay restitution of more than $328,000, and Richard Novak, 49, a Middletown attorney who was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay restitution of $145,000 for signing documents that contained false statements during the closing of a fraudulent real estate deal in East Haven.

Prosecutors say Babar, a New London High School graduate, led a scheme between February 2007 and April 2010 that led to about 30 fraudulent mortgage transactions and included sham sales contracts, fraudulent appraisals and false loan applications. Babar, who earlier this year was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, cost lenders about $4.75 million in losses, authorities have said.

So far, 13 people have been convicted in the Babar scheme. Six received prison terms of between 30 and 90 months.


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