A disbarred attorney-turned-mortgage broker pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $ 5 million in refinance loans, using them to buy dozens of watches and stacks of jewelry, instead of paying off his clients’ original mortgages.

Brent Kaufman, 50, of Commack, NY, admitted that on numerous occasions between 2016 and 2019, he included his own bank account number in documentation sent to new lenders informing them where to send money.

Usually the money will be transferred to the owner’s original lender to pay off your existing loan. As a result, Kaufman’s clients were unknowingly left with two mortgages on their homes. In several cases, the financial institutions involved took steps to foreclose on innocent borrowers, though ultimately no one lost their home, a person familiar with the matter said.

“This is a classic case of greed that outpaces honest business practices, as Mr. Kaufman leveraged his access to customer funds to enrich his own lifestyle,” said Darnell Edwards of the United States Postal Inspection Service. United. “His actions left many in financial ruin, with two mortgages and facing the threat of foreclosure.”

Prosecutors say Kaufman had been working as a mortgage broker even though he was not licensed. Kaufman faces up to 30 years in prison and fines of $ 1 million. Prosecutors have also moved to have the government seize the dozens of watches and jewelry seized from Kaufman’s home.

In an email, Kaufman’s attorney said his client “regrets his role in the crime” and “hopes to move on to the next chapter in his life.”

According to civil lawsuits filed by several of the lenders who were defrauded in the case, Kaufman’s clients appeared to be mostly new immigrants with homes in Long Island and Queens.

In some cases, Kaufman would use part of the $ 4.7 million he had pocketed to continue making mortgage payments on the homeowners’ original loans, or even pay them off, to avoid detection, prosecutors said. In total, prosecutors say Kaufman kept about $ 2.5 million for himself.

Once a lawyer, Kaufman was sentenced to 18 months in prison and disbarred in 2000 for his role in a bankruptcy fraud case, records show.

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