The mother and son who owned the now shuttered strip club linked to the Sean Bell shooting were arraigned Tuesday along with two others on charges of taking part in a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme, the Queens district attorney said.
Roger Arias, 36, of Ridgewood, along with his mother, Martina Duran, 57, of Briarwood, and two Long Island men faced various counts, including identity theft and grand larceny, DA Richard Brown said.
The group allegedly posed as potential buyers of several Queens properties in South Ozone Park, Corona and Jamaica and raked in nearly $2 million in cash, according to the DA.
“In this particular case, one of the frauds was so brazen it allegedly involved the sale of a house by two people posing as sellers, one of whom was dead, to a third person posing as a buyer — with the defendants pocketing an astounding $250,000. These types of financial crimes have real-life consequences and will not be tolerated,” he said in a statement.
The alleged scam started when a South Ozone Park homeowner contacted the DA’s office after he received mail indicating his mortgage was paid off and now under the ownership of another individual, Brown said.
The property was sold in a deal that was made in a restaurant parking lot in Deer Park, L.I., on July 13, 2006, according to the DA. During the meeting, Duran, who posed as a buyer, and two conspirators, who posed as real homeowners with fake identification, allegedly negotiated a sale of the house for $500,000, the DA said.
Some $340,000 was due to the two homeowners — less than their existing mortgage — and $250,000 went to Duran, the DA said.
Five months later, a mother and daughter approached Duran with the intent of buying a home and gave him their personal information, but they decided to move back to the Dominican Republic, Brown said. Duran allegedly gave that information to a co-conspirator, who used the mother’s identity to purchase a $701,000 home on Waldron Street in Corona, according to the DA.
Duran and his co-conspirators reaped $50,000 from the fraudulent sale, Brown said.
He was also allegedly involved with a similar scam involving the 2007 purchase of a home on 139th Street in Jamaica, according to the DA. An imposter claiming to be a woman from Puerto Rico purchased the property for $550,000, the DA said. Duran and his co-conspirators allegedly reaped $50,000 from the sale, according to Brown.
Arias and Duran are the owners of the Kalua Cabaret, the Jamaica strip club where 23-year-old Sean Bell celebrated his bachelor party in 2006. The venue was being investigated for suspected drug and prostitution activity by undercover police.
Bell and two friends were shot by the officers outside the now-defunct club after the officers mistakenly believed the bridegroom was armed with a gun.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2010 Community News Group
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