Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., has announced guilty verdicts for defendants Aaron Hand, Kenneth Law and Eric Shields after a jury trial, and for defendant Jerry Strklja after a bench trial. The defendants were found guilty of multiple felonies, including Enterprise Corruption, Scheme to Defraud, Conspiracy, and dozens of Grand Larcenies, all arising from a mortgage fraud scheme conducted through a corrupt loan origination company called AFG Financial Group Inc.
The verdicts marked the culmination of the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into the activities of AFG, called “Operation Broken Brownstone,” which revealed a three-year path of mortgage fraud totaling well over $100 million in bad loans. To date, there have 27 convictions resulting from the investigation.
“Today’s verdict marked the successful conclusion of one of the largest and most complex mortgage fraud prosecutions in the country," said District Attorney Vance Jr. "This type of criminal conduct contributed to the general collapse of the housing market. These defendants built a corrupt enterprise—complete with corrupt lawyers, bankers, appraisers, straw buyers and others—to control every aspect of the residential lending process. They stole more than $100 million dollars from lenders and home sellers to line their pockets. I thank the team of investigators and prosecutors who built this case and the jurors for their conscientious service during a nine-week trial.”
District Attorney Vance thanked prosecutors Edward Starishevsky, Garrett Lynch and Harold Wilson, all under the supervision of Principal Deputy Chief Gary T. Fishman; paralegal analysts Richard Kim, Song-Mee Yoon-Smith, Katie Ko, Alexis Etow, and Steve Hsia; and DANY Investigators Thomas Jackson, Gerald Bergold, Michael Wigdor, Santiago Batista, Stephen McCallion, and Chief Investigator Walter Alexander. Senior Investigative Counsel Richard T. Preiss also assisted in the trial.
District Attorney Vance also thanked the New York State Banking Department.
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