A disbarred Hauppauge attorney, in jail and charged in a scheme to cheat at least 10 Long Island homeowners out of $1.3 million, was released for one day Thursday by a federal judge who said the accused had a day to raise a multimillion dollar bail package.
Barry Zornberg, 54, was given the time to come up with the money by U.S. District Judge Leonard Wexler. Zornberg told the judge during a hearing in Central Islip that he owned several million dollars in property but his wife was too ill to work out the details of which assets to put up for his bail.
Wexler said that if Zornberg did not return to court he would be rearrested and never be allowed to make bail.
Zornberg, who has pleaded not guilty, was arrested last week on charges of lying to FBI agents about his role in a mortgage fraud scheme in which homeowners were falsely promised that if they worked with associates of Zornberg, their homes would be saved from foreclosure, according to officials.
Eastern District Attorney Christopher Ott objected to Zornberg's release on the grounds that he had been disbarred in 2006 for involvement in a similar scheme, and also faces separate charges in Suffolk County Court, where he's accused of defrauding other homeowners in the same type of scheme.
Names of the victims were not released.
In the federal case, Zornberg was accused of telling an unnamed Glen Head couple to become involved in what the government says is the mortgage fraud, while telling FBI agents that he counseled the couple not to get involved.
According to officials, the scheme involved convincing homeowners to sign over their homes to straw buyers on the promise that if they paid rent on the houses for a year, they would get back title to their homes.
In fact, the homeowners lost a total of $1.3 million without getting any relief, officials said.
One of Zornberg's alleged accomplices in the scheme has pleaded guilty in the case and is awaiting sentencing. A second one died while the case was ongoing, according to officials.
Zornberg's attorney, Terrence Buckley of Commack, said he was "gratified" that the judge allowed his client the time to raise the bail.