DA: Guldi mortgage fraud scheme 'more expansive'

Former Suffolk Legis. George Guldi was arraigned on

Former Suffolk Legis. George Guldi was arraigned on charges that he took part in an $82-million mortgage fraud scheme. (Credit: Newsday/Suffolk County D.A.)

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A dominatrix, her male personal assistant, two employees at her Manhattan sexual fantasy club and her 65-year-old mother are among the latest defendants charged as part of an $82-million mortgage fraud scheme in which a former Suffolk legislator is accused of having a central role.

Former Suffolk Legis. George Guldi, 56, of Westhampton Beach, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in a Riverhead courtroom to 23 counts of a 130-count indictment against him and 16 others.

When his arrest was announced in March, prosecutors described the scale of the scheme to be $50 million. Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said the investigation has "become more expansive," now involving more than $80 million, and it could be bigger. "We're not finished," he said, adding it is the largest mortgage-fraud ring uncovered in Suffolk County.

The scheme involved the fraudulent purchase of 60 homes from Cold Spring Harbor to Bridgehampton by straw buyers using fake employer information and phantom bank balances, Spota said.

Donald MacPherson, 65, of Manhattan, publisher of the SoHo Journal magazine, was central to the scheme, prosecutors said. They claim he recruited straw buyers and provided fake employment information using his corporations, including the magazine and the sexual fantasy club he owns with his wife.

His wife, Carrie Coakley, 39, recruited straw buyers through the sex club The Dungeon, where she is head dominatrix, prosecutors said. Coakley and MacPherson, who were arrested along with Guldi in March, pleaded not guilty Tuesday. Lawyers Dustin Dente, 37, of Roslyn, and Thomas McVann, 66, of Westhampton Beach, pleaded not guilty as well.

Prosecutors said some of the straw buyers arrested late last month who have pleaded not guilty include Dungeon employees Renee Garzon, 21, of Manhattan, and Lisa Resurreccion, 46, of Brooklyn. Coakley's personal assistant, John E. Sheehan, aka "Puppy Dog John," 50, of Manhattan, and her mother, Dortha Coakley, 65, also were arrested and pleaded not guilty to being straw buyers. Spota said Dortha Coakley is unemployed and lives in Riverhead, yet was portrayed in a fraudulent mortgage application as earning $20,000 a month at the SoHo Journal.

At Guldi's arraignment Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Thalia Stavrides said Guldi acted as lawyer for the fraudulent transactions and that the closings took place at his Westhampton Beach office. She said he even used his father, now deceased, as one of the straw buyers to secure a $1.8-million mortgage.

Stavrides called Guldi a flight risk, noting that he has a pilot's license. One of three attorneys standing with Guldi, Kathy Huang of Manhattan, said his name on the ballot in the September primary for his old office indicates he "has ties to the community, intends to stay and fight these charges."

When Suffolk County Judge James F.X. Doyle ordered him held on bail of $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond, Guldi was led away in handcuffs. About two hours later, he returned after a bail bonds representative posted $500,000. The cuffs were removed, and Guldi watched as a court officer dumped the contents of a plastic bag on a table.

Guldi then collected assorted coins, his belt, a bow tie. He put on the belt and bow tie before leaving the courtroom to face news cameras. He declined to comment as he left the building.

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