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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Former Milford woman sentenced in mortgage scheme

CONCORD – A second participant in a scheme that prosecutors say defrauded banks and tricked dozens of New Hampshire homeowners out of their homes was sentenced Friday to probation and house arrest.

Sadie Stanhope Ng, a former Milford resident, pleaded guilty to a single count of mail fraud and was sentenced to four years of probation, including eight months of house arrest, in U.S. District Court in Concord on Friday.

Stanhope Ng admitted to acting as a straw buyer as part of the scheme and to signing mortgage documents with false information.

Another participant, Richard Winefield, already has been sentenced to three years of probation and three months of house arrest. A former Nashua man, Walter Bressler, is awaiting sentencing.

Michael Prieto, another former Nashua man and the alleged ringleader, was only recently indicted and arraigned in federal court. He pleaded not guilty to one count of mail fraud and 10 counts of money laundering.

Prosecutors claim Prieto and others sought out homeowners who were having trouble making ends meet and offered to buy the property, take over the loan and rent the home back to homeowners.

They also contracted to let the homeowner buy the home back later at a higher price, although no homeowner was ever able to do so, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gunnison.

Meanwhile, and without the homeowners knowing it, Gunnison said, the conspirators were flipping the homes, selling them at inflated prices to bogus straw buyers who had taken out much larger loans.

Those larger loans paid off the original mortgages and were then defaulted on while the difference, often tens of thousands of dollars, was pocketed, according to court documents.

The indictments accuse Prieto of overseeing the entire enterprise.

Prieto has long maintained his innocence. In previous interviews, he said there was no scheme, but rather a refinancing program intended to help struggling homeowners, which would have worked if they paid their agreed-upon rent.

Prosecutors say dozens of New Hampshire homeowners, including at least one in Nashua, were targeted by the conspiracy.

Stanhope Ng expressed her concerns about the false statements on the mortgage documents she signed and the equity stripping that followed but still remained part of the scheme, according to court documents.

Stanhope Ng was paid about 16 percent of the equity stripped from the homes, about $80,000, according to court documents.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com. Also follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).