Jul 29, 2014

DA: Woodbury Man Duped Mother-in-Law in Real Estate Scam

John Tuozzo, 48, sentenced to one to three years in prison.

DA: Woodbury Man Duped Mother-in-Law in Real Estate Scam

A Woodbury man was sentenced to one- to three-years in prison Thursday after tricking his mother-in-law into buying a $1 million home and using her to swindle $600,000 from several financial institutions, prosecutors said

John Tuozzo, 48, duped his mother-in-law into signing various real estate documents that allowed him to steal the money and left her facing civil lawsuits in addition to foreclosure proceedings on the home, according to the Nassau District Attorney's Office.

He will serve a sentence for second degree grand larceny and first degree scheme to defraud concurrently with Suffolk County and Federal sentences on other mortgage and tax convictions he’s now serving in a federal facility in Massachusetts.

“Mr. Tuozzo targeted his own mother-in-law in a brazen series of scams that relied on his knowledge of real estate and banking practices as a mortgage broker,” Nassau DA Kathleen Rice said. “We will continue to prosecute those who cheat innocent victims in a market that’s so critical to the stability and strength of our economy.”

Tuozzo was arrested by DA Investigators in March 2010. Rice said that in October 2005, Tuozzo, a self-employed mortgage broker, needed to obtain two mortgages totaling $939,000 so that he and his wife could purchase a home on Harvard Avenue in Merrick. 

Since Tuozzo and his wife had filed for bankruptcy in 2001, they were unable to secure financing on their own and Tuozzo’s mother-in-law agreed to co-sign the mortgages.

Tuozzo’s mother-in-law was unaware that in the mortgage application, Tuozzo fraudulently indicated that she had been the chief operating officer of his mortgage company for seven years and earned $25,000 per month. She was also unaware that Tuozzo listed her as the sole borrower on the loan, and signed documents unaware that she was now the property’s sole owner.

In May 2006, Tuozzo deceived his mother-in-law into signing documents securing an additional $285,000 mortgage loan and opening a line of credit of $185,000. On these documents, Tuozzo fraudulently indicated that his mother-in-law had been the chief operating officer of his mortgage company for seven years and earned $25,000 per month. Tuozzo would then write checks in his mother-in-law’s name to his wife, sign his wife’s name to endorse the check, and then write checks in his wife’s name to himself.

In October 2007, Tuozzo was again to able to get his mother-in-law to sign documents that she believed were for a new mortgage loan so that Tuozzo could refinance the Merrick property and get a better interest rate. In reality, the documents opened a $472,000 credit line. While most of that went towards paying off the property’s mortgages, more than $21,000 went into Tuozzo’s personal bank account. Tuozzo also rang up an additional $130,000 on the first credit line.

Tuozzo and his wife divorced in 2009, and the Merrick property is owned by Tuozzo’s now-ex-mother-in-law. She is no longer responsible for the mortgages and lines of credit because they were fraudulently obtained.

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