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Woodbury Man Sentenced In Scam

A Woodbury man was sentenced to one to three years in prison after he was convicted of tricking his mother-in-law into signing various real estate documents which allowed him to steal more than $600,000 from several financial institutions, leaving her to face civil lawsuits in addition to foreclosure proceedings on a nearly $1 million home she had no idea she owned.

In October 2005, John Tuozzo, a self-employed mortgage broker, needed to obtain two mortgages totaling $939,000 so he and his wife could purchase a home on Harvard Avenue in Merrick, according to Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. Since Tuozzo and his wife had filed for bankruptcy in 2001, they were unable to secure financing on their own. Tuozzo’s mother-in-law agreed to co-sign the mortgages.

“Mr. Tuozzo targeted his own mother-in-law in a brazen series of scams that relied on his knowledge of real estate and banking practices as a mortgage broker,” said Rice.

Tuozzo’s mother-in-law was unaware that in the mortgage application, Tuozzo fraudulently indicated that she had been the chief operating officer of his mortgage company for seven years and earned $25,000 per month, according to Rice. She was also unaware that Tuozzo listed her as the sole borrower on the loan, and signed documents not realizing she was now the property’s sole owner.

In 2006, Tuozzo deceived his mother-in-law into signing documents securing an additional $285,000 mortgage loan and opening a line of credit of $185,000, according to Rice, who said Tuozzo would then write checks in his mother-in-law’s name to his wife, sign his wife’s name to endorse the check, and then write checks in his wife’s name to himself.

Rice said Tuozzo again had his mother-in-law sign documents in 2007 that she believed were for a new mortgage loan so that Tuozzo could refinance the Merrick property and get a better interest rate. In reality, the documents opened a $472,000 credit line. While most of that went towards paying off the property’s mortgages, more than $21,000 went into Tuozzo’s personal bank account. Tuozzo also rang up an additional $130,000 on the first credit line.

Tuozzo and his wife divorced in 2009. The Merrick property, which was in foreclosure in 2010, is no longer in foreclosure and is still owned by Tuozzo’s now-ex-mother-in-law. She is no longer responsible for the mortgages and lines of credit.

Tuozzo will serve the sentence for grand larceny and scheme to defraud concurrently with Suffolk County and federal sentences on other mortgage and tax convictions he’s now serving in a federal facility in Massachusetts.