NEWARK N.J. – A Nutley man, who worked as a loan officer with a mortgage company, was charged today with using fraudulent documents to deceive his employer into approving a loan, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Richard Patino, 42, is charged by complaint with one count of wire fraud. He made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court and was released on bail. Law enforcement is aware of approximately 23 loans that Patino approved that are suspected of fraudulent activity.

According to the complaint, On Aug. 15, 2013, a person identified in the complaint as “Individual A” signed a loan application in connection with Individual A’s purchase of a property in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Patino signed the loan application indicating that he had reviewed and approved it.

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However, the bank statements that were included in the application were allegedly Patino’s own bank statements that he altered to make them appear as though they belonged to Individual A. Afterwards, the mortgage company approved the application and issued the loan to Individual A.

The loan was later sold to another financial institution, which was provided with both the loan application and supporting documents, including the fraudulent statements Patino created. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) guaranteed the loan based in part on those phony documents.

As of January of this year, Individual A has ceased paying the loan and the financial institution has begun foreclosure proceedings on the property.

The wire fraud charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

U .S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi, with the investigation leading to today’s charge. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Kogan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.

The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.