Miami Lakes

He lied about income and had a killer home. It was part of a $20 million mortgage fraud

Marco Laureti owned several real estate and mortgage businesses, a real estate license, a mortgage broker’s license and a house on San Marino, one of the Venetian Causeway islands.

That $7 million piece of real estate, part of a $20 million mortgage fraud, is one of the reasons that Laureti has been convicted of seven counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud after a U.S. District Court trial.

When the 46-year-old Laureti, most recently of Sunny Isles Beach, gets sentenced Jan. 25, he could be looking at a maximum of 240 years in prison, $1.75 million fine and restitution. Laureti’s cronies, Michelle Cabrera and Pedro Melian, who each pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud affecting a financial institution, will be sentenced Nov. 17. Their court confessions repeatedly say they operated under the direction of “M.L.”

The Justice Department believes the fourth member of the mortgage con quartet, Felix Mostelac, has skipped the country just as he skipped out on a South Beach condo after suckering the down payment out of Washington Mutual.

That’s the financial institution affected by the wire fraud, a bank that sank in the 2007-08 economic hurricane before being consumed by J.P. Morgan Chase. As the earliest bands of that economic storm hit, the foursome applied for mortgages to four units at 45 Hendricks Isle condominium building in Fort Lauderdale, two tower suite units at Sunset Harbour South condominium that were Mostelac’s residence, and 205 E. San Marino Dr., Laureti’s house.

Lies about the straw borrowers filled the applications as needed. For example, for 45 Hendricks Isle Unit 2B, Laureti and Mostelac stated the straw borrower made $36,407.77 per month and had over $472,248.65 in the bank. Those lies secured the $1,476,646 in loan money Washington Mutual wired to Cabrera’s Florida Title company on June 25, 2007. From that, Cabrera sent $387,308.92 to Mostelac’s company. From that, Mostelac paid the “cash from borrower” of $143,417.83 and pocketed the rest.

For Laureti’s San Marino property, they worked that scam with a bonus skim on the side — after using almost $1.7 million of the $5.21 million from Washington Mutual for the “cash from borrower,” Cabrera’s company sent $1.2 million of what remained to one of Laureti’s companies as “real estate commission.” If true, that would’ve been a 17 percent commission on what’s usually a 2 to 4 percent job.

All the properties fell into foreclosure, sticking remaining residents with assessments and/or higher maintenance fees along with falling property values.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal