NEWARK, NJ — Sean Huey, 42 and Donnette Ford, 51 both of Piscataway are among ten defendants facing charges in a mortgage fraud scheme in Essex County that targeted investment property buyers including new landlords in the New York City Special One Time Assistance Program (SOTA), a program which prepaid building owners one year of rent to relocate families from homeless shelters in New York City.
Huey and Ford were charged and arraigned on Friday with racketeering, theft, tampering with records, and money laundering, said Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens, II.
According to Stevens in a Friday news release:
“Those charged are Darnell Alford, 42, of Toms River, Travis Glover, 57, of Jackson, Albert Johnson, 54 of Hillside, Christina Barnett, 37, of the Bronx, NY, Lashawn Glover, 50, of Jackson, Vera Johnson, 74, Hillside, Sean Huey, 42, of Piscataway, Donnette Ford, 51, of Piscataway, Cherryl Sharp, 62, of Clarksburg and Jalisa Clark, 31, of Irvington.
Alford and Barnett were not arraigned today because they remain at large. A warrant has been issued for their arrest.
Between 2016 and 2019, these individuals are alleged to have recruited unsuspecting buyers to purchase investment properties in Newark, East Orange, and Irvington. With little to no down payment and questionable financial stability, the buyers were led to entrust the entire mortgage application process to Alford and Glover, sometimes never even seeing the home they were purchasing in person. The buyers were allegedly promised that their homes would be filled with tenants, that the properties would be managed by Alford and his associate, Barnett, and that the buyers would receive monthly income from the property.
They were doing business under the name of four companies: Alford & Associates; Integrity First Construction and Property Management; Barnette Consulting Group; and 83 & Company.
Many of the homes were purchased at inflated prices. It is alleged that Alford, Glover, Johnson, and Barnett conspired to facilitate the purchase of a total of seven homes and obtained over $1.8 million by deceiving mortgage lenders. They are alleged to have manipulated applications and temporarily gifted monies to the unsuspecting buyers to obtain the loans from the mortgage company. The “gift money” was recovered from the inflated loan that was disbursed at the time of closing.
It is further alleged that the buyers were not aware that a significant portion of the monies they were borrowing, anywhere between $50,000 and $106,000, was being paid to Alford, Glover, and Johnson.
In some cases the victims were young professionals who were told their student loans would be paid off as part of the transaction.
It is alleged that after closing, Barnett, who was presented as the “property manager,” failed to manage the properties. The homes were in various states of disrepair. Most disturbing is that the tenants, which were supposed to be income generating to the buyer, were often clients of the New York City SOTA program. The defendants had collected the year of prepaid rent from the SOTA program and allegedly absconded with those funds. The defendants ultimately abandoned the tenants and left the new unsuspecting owner with an unmaintained building. All seven homes fell into foreclosure.”