Easton ex-con with 14 aliases charged with defrauding distressed homeowners

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New Haven Federal Court

NEW HAVEN – An Easton man was charged Friday on a federal criminal complaint with operating a long-running fraud scheme that targeted distressed homeowners.

Timothy W. Burke, also known as “Tim Burke,” “William Burke,” “Bill Burke,” “Jeff Burke,” “Kerry Saunders,” “Pat Riley,” “Jim Caldwell,” “Jim Saunders,” “Tom Morrisey,” “Jimmy,” “Phil Burke,” “Phil,” and “Burt,” 64, of Easton, was arrested for a scheme to defraud individuals, mortgage lenders and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by falsely representing to homeowners who were facing foreclosure on their homes that he would purchase their homes and pay off their mortgages, according to a court statement.

According to court documents, the distressed homeowners agreed to sign various documents, including quitclaim deeds, indemnification agreements, management agreements and third-party authorization letters, which were presented to them on the understanding that, by signing the documents, they would be able to walk away from their homes without the burdens of their mortgage or other costs associated with home ownership.

Burke also told homeowners that the process of negotiating with lenders can take time and that, in the meantime, to ignore any notices regarding foreclosure.

After he gained control of the houses, Burke rented out the properties to tenants by advertising the properties on craigslist.com and other means and falsely representing to tenants that Burke owned the property, according to the complaint. The complaint further alleges that Burke or one of his agents then collected rent from tenants, in person, and Burke used the funds for his own benefit.

Burke failed to negotiate with the homeowners’ mortgage lender or pay expenses associated with the home, including the homeowner’s mortgages, taxes, insurance, association dues, or other expenses, and he failed to pay any rental income he was collecting to the homeowners. The investigation revealed that homeowners often discovered on their own, and to their surprise, that Burke had rented out their houses. Many of the properties Burke purportedly purchased were ultimately foreclosed upon by the mortgage lender, according to court documents/

The complaint further alleges that in approximately 2002, Burkle was indicted by a federal grand jury in New Jersey on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, and equity skimming. Burke subsequently pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit both equity skimming and mail fraud, and he was sentenced to five years imprisonment and three years of supervised release.

He was released from federal custody in approximately August 2007 and began his federal supervised release at that time. One of the special conditions of Burke’s supervised release was that he refrain from employment in the real estate business or mortgage industry.

The criminal complaint charges Burke with mail fraud, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. He was detained and a detention hearing is scheduled for Monday at 11:15 a.m.

Individuals who believe they have been victimized by this alleged scheme and citizens with information that will be helpful to this ongoing investigation are encouraged to call 860-240-9735.