The attorney involved in a real estate scam in Paterson pleaded guilty to running a multi-million mortgage fraud scheme throughout New Jersey, according to federal authorities.
Christopher Goodson, 45, of Newark pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud last week.
Authorities charged Goodson and his associates defrauded banks out of more than $30 million through their scheme from Jan. 2011 through Aug. 2017.
Anthony Garvin, 47, of Jersey City, who allegedly worked with Goodson was also charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Both men were picked up by the FBI in November.
The FBI lists five co-conspirators in its charging documents. None of the co-conspirators are identified.
Both men and their associates ran a sophisticated short sale, a process by which a lender and borrower agree to sell a property at loss to avert a loan default, scam targeting homeowners, who had difficulty making mortgage payments.
Authorities said their victims were homeowners in Jersey City, Clifton, Union City, and elsewhere in New Jersey. A sample of three cases out of Clifton, Union City, and Jersey City are mentioned in a more than 23-page charging document.
In each case, the actors targeted individuals who had difficulty making mortgage payments. Current owner of the property is convinced to go through a short sale. The financial institution holding the mortgage is persuaded to agree to the sale of the property at a loss to a buyer tied to the scheme.
In between the actors submit “false and fraudulent” documents to banks. Goodson was charged with deceiving banks, generating phony deeds, generating false preapproval letters from a company, Five Star Funding, that he controlled.
Goodson on Friday admitted he and Garvin rigged the short sale process and kept financial institutions from detecting the fraud. Garvin, a real estate agent and investor, allegedly coordinated fraudulent transactions.
The charge against Garvin is still pending, according to authorities.
The property is then flipped at a higher price for a profit in a short period of time. Proceeds were split between the actors.
Goodson was involved in the short sale of 108-110 Birch Street in Paterson that involved a number of local collaborators. Goodson is alleged to have represented both the buyer and seller in the real estate transaction, according to a lawsuit filed by the property’s owner, Nazim Uddin.
Uddin was lured in by the promise of a loan modification to reduce his mortgage payment by an unlicensed foreclosure specialist, Lutfur Uddin, at the suggestion of a “family friend,” Faruk Siddique. The two Uddins are not related.
Lutfur told Uddin he was working for the Goodson Law Offices, according to court documents. Goodson’s attorneys denied Lutfur ever acted as an agent or employee of the law firm in court filings. Lutfur allegedly told Uddin to cease making mortgage payments. Uddin obliged.
Lutfur arranged a short sale. Uddin’s family friend, Siddique, played the role of a straw buyer in the transaction, according to court documents. The property valued at $308,000 was sold for just $89,000.
The money paid by Siddique was indirectly provided by Goodson and Shelim Khalique, according to the lawsuit. Khalique is the brother of councilman Shahin Khalique.
Shelim Khalique, who owns the school bus firm A-1 Elegant Tours, later transferred the property for $1 through a quit-claim deed to his company, Preakness Real Estate. In that transfer, Goodson represented both Siddique and Preakness Real Estate, according to the lawsuit.
The bus company owner handed a $135,000 cashier’s check from A1 Elegant Tours to Goodson’s law office to purchase the property, according to court documents.
Uddin sued Lutfur, Khalique, Siddique, and Goodson seeking damages. John Caruso, an attorney, was also named in the lawsuit. Caruso was dismissed from the lawsuit. The lawsuit has been settlement, according to court records.
Lawyers in the case did not respond to previous calls for comment.
Goodson told the Paterson Times in July that he had been dismissed from the lawsuit. Four months later, he would be charged with bank fraud.
Lutfur, Siddique, and Khalique have not been charged with any wrongdoing by authorities.
Former councilman Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman told the Paterson Times in early 2016 there were “dozens” of properties that changed hands through similar scams.
Goodson faces a 30-year prison sentence and $1 million in fine. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 29, 2019.