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Co-defendant in mortgage fraud scheme pleads guilty

Publication: The Southampton Press
By Hallie D. Martin   Dec 2, 2009 12:11 PM

A Stony Brook attorney pleaded guilty in Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverside on Tuesday to his role in a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme targeting the East End that authorities say was run by former County Legislator George Guldi of Westhampton Beach.

Ethan Ellner, 49, of Plainview pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree grand larceny, one count of fourth-degree conspiracy and one count of first-degree scheme to defraud, all felonies, according to a press release issued by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office.

Mr. Ellner’s law license will be suspended, though it is not clear when that will happen. He is an attorney and owner of Suburban Abstract, a title company with offices in Stony Brook.

Mr. Ellner will appear before Judge James F.X. Doyle in Suffolk County Court in Riverside for sentencing on March 2, 2010. He faces a maximum of 3 to 9 years in prison, according to the district attorney’s office.

Mr. Ellner was arrested on March 25 for his role in an $82-million-dollar mortgage fraud scheme that targeted dozens of homes on the East End.

Mr. Guldi was indicted, along with 16 others, in August and charged with 110 criminal charges, including grand larceny, money laundering, conspiracy and forgery. He and Donald MacPherson, a part-time Westhampton Beach resident and owner of Magic’s Pub in the village, are accused of obtaining loans for houses with forged or falsified documents.

Mr. Ellner admitted that he, Mr. Guldi, Mr. MacPherson and others defrauded mortgage lending institutions of millions of dollars by using forged documents, false employment and income information on applications, straw buyers, false powers of attorney, deed flipping, and mortgage stacking, according to the press release.

“Ellner’s plea of guilty represents a major step forward in the prosecution of this band of criminals led by Guldi and MacPherson operating on the East End to steal millions,” Mr. Spota said in a prepared statement.

Mr. Guldi, who has a law practice in Westhampton Beach, was also charged with insurance fraud in September and tax evasion last month. Both charges are felonies and are unrelated to the mortgage fraud scheme, authorities said.

Two other co-defendants in the mortgage fraud scheme pleaded not guilty in court two weeks ago. Dix Hills attorney Brandon Lisi entered his not guilty plea on November 18, and Dustin Dente, a Rosedale attorney, pleaded not guilty the following day.

Mr. MacPherson, Mr. Lisi and Mr. Dente are due back in court later this month. Mr. Guldi is due back on January 11.

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Whatever any of the others charged in this matter did, none of the criminal actions could have taken place without Ellner cooking the title reports.

His early guilty plea, and the additional charges brought by the DA, strongly suggest that Ellner has flipped on his co-defendants.

Let's see what sort of sentence his is given.
By Frank Wheeler (1186), Northampton on Dec 3, 09 2:00 PM
A sentencing date in March is an unusually long time from a December plea- even with the holidays a pre-sentence report would normally be done by the end of January. I suspect that this canary is singing up a storm.
By cedric (9), Southampton on Dec 4, 09 8:40 AM
1 member liked this comment
Yes, Ellner is undoubtedly a rat. With all the documentary evidence at the prosecution's disposal, why did Spota feel the need to offer him a deal? The article notes the felonies to which he pled guilty but not the felonies with which he was originally charged. (Want to bet that one of them was FIRST degree grand larceny?)

His status as a co-conspirator and felon makes his testimony inadmissible unless corroborated, so his evidentiary use against the other defendants is minimal. Spota ...more
By highhatsize (1892), East Quogue on Dec 4, 09 9:54 PM
These people are absolutely pathetic. Too much greed....very sad. I hope they all go to jail.
By LilOnes21 (11), hampton bays on Dec 5, 09 8:40 AM
Too much of that greed stuff goin' round these days.

Surpasses avarice, at times...
By Mr. Z (5610), North Sea on Dec 12, 09 5:26 PM
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