David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Steven J. Kottage, 45, of Weston, pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Mark R. Kravitz in New Haven to two counts of conspiracy stemming from mortgage fraud schemes in which Kottage participated.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Kottage conspired with others to commit wire fraud by making materially false statements to H&R Block Home Mortgage, Inc., including a false loan application, W-2, employment verification, and pay stub in connection with a mortgage on a home on Fire Island, New York. In addition, Kottage admitted that he conspired with others to commit bank fraud by submitting a materially false loan application to Washington Mutual to refinance a condominium in Hillsboro Beach, Fla. A co-defendant, Mary Ellen Durso, served as the straw owner for the condo in order to obtain the fraudulent loan proceeds for the benefit of Kottage and another co-conspirator. Through both schemes, Kottage and others defrauded Wells Fargo and Freddie Mac of more than $600,000.
Judge Kravitz has scheduled sentencing for July, at which time Kottage faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years on each count. He also will be ordered to pay restitution in the amount of at least $616,547.93.
Kottage is currently detained.
On Dec. 14, 2010, Durso pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and five counts of filing false tax returns. On March 9, she was sentenced to three years of probation, the first six months of which she must serve in home confinement.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David T. Huang and Senior Litigation Counsel Richard J. Schechter.
In July 2009, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced the formation of the Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force to investigate and prosecute mortgage fraud cases and related financial crimes occurring in Connecticut. Citizens are encouraged to report any suspected mortgage fraud activity by calling 203-333-3512 and requesting the Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force includes representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General, and State of Connecticut Department of Banking.
To report financial fraud crimes, and to learn more about the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, please visit www.stopfraud.gov.