Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Brooklyn developer Eliyahu Ezagui gets 33 months in prison for fraudulent mortage scheme
A Brooklyn developer got a slap on the wrist Tuesday for masterminding a massive fraudulent mortgage scheme that left dozens of Lubavitcher residents in fear of losing their condo apartments.
Eliyahu Ezagui was sentenced to 33 months in prison for the scheme, which was first exposed by The Daily News in 2008 leading to his federal indictment.
Prosecutors asked Judge Frederic Block to give Ezagui 20 years for the multi-million-dollar fraud against mortgage lenders and apartment buyers.
Block said he saw the case differently -- ruling that Ezagui had perpetrated a fraud primarily against the lenders, although the judge acknowledged the buyers were victims, too.
"Twenty years is a sentence for rapists and murderers, not fraud like in this case," Block said.
Even under the judge's revised calculation of the financial losses caused by Ezagui's crimes, he could have still faced more than 10 years in prison.
Defense lawyer Susan Necheles had argued that Ezagui did not personally profit from the scheme that worked like this: He gave stolen deeds to family members in order to take out mortgage loans on apartments he did not own so he could fund construction costs.
Ezagui, 49, declined comment.