September 11, 2008 / 9:47 PM / 11 years ago

New York lender admits to fraud of Fannie Mae

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former mortgage lender pleaded guilty on Thursday to conspiring to commit fraud in a $44 million theft of payoff proceeds for refinanced mortgage loans funded by Fannie Mae FNM.N.

Leib Pinter, whose Olympia Mortgage Corporation originated

and serviced mortgage loans owned by Fannie Mae, admitted in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

A grand jury indictment in May charged Pinter and another officer of the same Brooklyn-based firm, Barry Goldstein, with conspiracy, wire fraud and bank fraud.

The charges stemmed from FBI investigations into mortgage-related fraud in the troubled U.S. housing industry. Pinter and Goldstein had controlled Olympia from 1994 until November 2004, when the firm gave up its mortgage lender license.

Last Sunday, the U.S. government announced a takeover of the two mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac FRE.N to help support the ailing U.S. housing market and economy.

In the Brooklyn case, prosecutors said that, when Olympia refinanced a Fannie Mae mortgage loan, Fannie Mae wired the money to an Olympia account. Olympia was then required to pay off the underlying mortgage loan by sending the outstanding balance to Fannie Mae, but Pinter was accused of misappropriating the proceeds to his firm.

“When the fraudulent scheme was revealed, Fannie Mae held nearly $44 million in unpaid, but refinanced, underlying mortgage loans from Olympia Mortgage,” the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn said at the time of the indictment.

Pinter faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years on the charge, but the sentencing guidelines as part of the plea agreement call for a prison term of 10 years and one month or less. The sentencing was scheduled for December 19.

Goldstein was charged with fraud in Olympia’s sale of a portfolio of nonperforming mortgage loans to Credit Suisse First Boston using falsified loan histories. His case is pending, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Reporting by Grant McCool; Editing by Andre Grenon

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