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United States v. Rodriguez

United States District Court, W.D. New York

February 20, 2018

United States of America
v.
Julio Rodriguez and Laurence Savedoff, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          HON. HUGH B. SCOTT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Defendants Julio Rodriguez (“Rodriguez”) and Laurence Savedoff (“Savedoff”) allegedly helped sell several properties in Bronx, New York in 2008 and 2009. The sales by themselves would have been uneventful. The problem is that Rodriguez and Savedoff allegedly played roles in a conspiracy to dupe the Federal Housing Administration into insuring mortgage loans for these properties, using loan packages that contained fabricated information about purchasers' income and employment. Once federally insured, the loans allegedly were sold to M&T Bank, Suntrust Bank, Bank of America, N.A., JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Metlife Home Loans, LLC, and Citibank. Rodriguez and Savedoff now stand accused of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343, 1344, and 1349.

         Although Rodriguez and Savedoff do not dispute that the Government's allegations reach this District, they have filed motions to transfer the case as against them to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, under Rule 21(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. (Dkt. Nos. 135, 154 / 169, hereafter [135, 154 / 169].) In short, Rodriguez and Savedoff argue that the bulk of the case as against them rests in the greater New York City area, including the actions that they allegedly took and the witnesses who would testify for or against them. Rodriguez and Savedoff note further that they are from the New York City area, as are their counsel and the small businesses that they run. A transfer, in their view, would minimize hardship and serve the interests of justice. The Government opposes transfer, given that the investigation originated in this District, some witnesses at trial would be from this District, and at least one victim bank-M&T Bank-also would be from this District.

         This case was referred to this Court under 28 U.S.C § 636(b). [27.] The Court heard oral argument on January 10, 2018 [159] and allowed additional briefing through February 9, 2018 [163]. For the reasons below, the Court respectfully recommends[1] granting the motions and transferring the case as against Rodriguez and Savedoff to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

         II. BACKGROUND

         This case concerns allegations that Rodriguez and Savedoff, along with co-defendants Gregory Gibbons and Tina Brown, [2] conspired to defraud banks by selling them fraudulently obtained mortgage loans. The following excerpt from the indictment, filed on April 13, 2016, captures the essence of how the fraud conspiracy allegedly unfolded:

The defendants, RODRIGUEZ, GIBBONS, SAVEDOFF, and BROWN, made, and caused to be made, false statements in loan applications to TFS for multiple loans for the purchase of real property which were insured by the FHA. These loans were initially funded by TFS and then sold to federally insured financial institutions.
In these transactions, the defendants, RODRIGUEZ, GIBBONS, SAVEDOFF, and BROWN, assisted individuals with the purchase of properties and fraudulently qualified them for FHA insured mortgage loans through false applications and supporting documentation submitted to TFS.
To induce TFS to make the mortgage loans, the defendants, RODRIGUEZ, GIBBONS, SAVEDOFF, and BROWN, caused loan packages to be prepared and submitted that contained false and fraudulent statements, representations, pretenses and promises, and that omitted and concealed material facts. Loan packages submitted during the course of the scheme variously misrepresented and misstated:
a. the purchasers' income and/or assets;
b. the purchasers' place of employment;
c. the existence and source of down payment funds to be provided at losing by the purchasers;
d. the occupancy of the premises;
e. the ownership of the premises; and
f. otherwise contained false or forged documents.
* * * *
As a result of the false and fraudulent statements and representations made by the defendants, and others as directed by the defendants, in the transactions described in detail below, loans secured by real estate were originated by TFS, insured by FHA and sold to M&T, Suntrust Bank, Bank of America, ...

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