Morris County Lawyer Gets 7 Years for Money Laundering Scheme
Morris County lawyer Paul DiGiacomo was sentenced to seven years in state prison for filing a false loan application and purchasing a home in Newark in the name of a deceased man, according to the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General.
DiGiacomo, 46, was ordered to pay $42,404 in restitution and a fine of $150,000 for money laundering. He admitted that he laundered the stolen proceeds through his attorney trust account.
The leader of the scheme, Genilza R. Nunes, 38, also pleaded guilty to second-degree money laundering and is scheduled to be sentenced in mid-October.
Nunes acted as a principal of Leska Management, a bogus real estate management company. She arranged for the purchase of a home in Newark from a woman who had fallen behind in her mortgage payments. Kondaur Capital Corp., the holder of the mortgage, agreed to a “short sale” for $260,000.
DiGiacomo, who acted as the attorney for both the buyer and Leska, told Kondaur the sale had fallen through and then negotiated with Kondaur to assign the mortgage to Leska at a discounted price. Prior to assignment of the mortgage, however, the home was sold at an inflated price to a fictitious buyer created by the defendants, officials report.
Nunes fraudulently applied for a mortgage loan and purchased the home using the identity of a deceased man whose last name was “Benazi.” She created counterfeit bank records, employment records and false identification documents for Benazi and had another man pose as Benazi at the closing.
No payments were ever made to the lender on the loan. The seller was never notified of the closing, and her signature was forged on the closing documents, according to the NJ Office of Attorney General.
“Lawyers take an oath to uphold the law and are expected to be honest stewards of the money entrusted to them as attorneys,” said Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa. “When dishonest lawyers like this one take advantage of the trust placed in them, the potential for harm and loss is great. We will not tolerate lawyers who abuse their licenses and break the law.”
Three other defendants who pleaded guilty earlier this year are scheduled to be sentenced on October 12, along with Nunes. A sixth defendant agreed to be charged by accusation with third-degree securities fraud.
All six defendants are required to pay restitution to the lender, Provident Funding Associates.