David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, has announced that Robert Ilunga of Naugatuck, Conn. waived his right to indictment and has pled guilty before United States Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez in Hartford to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The charges stem from ILUNGA’s participation in a multi-million-dollar mortgage fraud scheme that involved more than 40 properties located in Bridgeport, Conn.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Ilunga was involved in the operation of Waikele Properties Corporation, a real estate company with offices in Bridgeport and in Garden City, N.Y. From approximately 2001 to August 2011, Ilunga conspired with New York residents Winston Shillingford and Marleen Shillingford, and others, to obtain fraudulent mortgages for the purchase of more than 40 multi-family properties in Bridgeport.
As part of the scheme, Ilunga, the Shillingfords and others purchased existing multi-family houses and vacant parcels of land and erected new houses on them to sell. The co-conspirators recruited individuals to purchase the properties, acted as the buyers’ real estate agent and assisted the buyers in applying for residential mortgage loans to purchase the houses. Ilunga ’s co-conspirators then prepared loan applications for the buyers that included fraudulent information concerning, among other things, the buyers’ employment, income, assets, and liabilities; previous property ownership; and intention to make the properties their primary residences. The co-conspirators also provided false and fraudulent supporting documentation, including false letters from fictitious employers, false earnings statements, and fraudulent bank records. Some of those loan applications were submitted to banks that received funding under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
After the loans were approved, the illicit proceeds of the scheme were wired into the Waikele Properties bank account and then transferred to Ilunga, the Shillingfords and others. Some of the proceeds also were used to continue the mortgage fraud scheme.
Contrary to the representations made on the loan applications, several straw purchasers never occupied the houses as their primary residences and subsequently defaulted on the loans. As a result of the scheme, mortgage lenders have suffered more than $7 million in losses.