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Community service sought in $82M mortgage fraud case

Ethan Ellner is a friend of Steve Levy

Ethan Ellner is a friend of Steve Levy who will be sentenced for his role in an $82-million mortgage fraud case in Suffolk. (Dec.12, 2012). Credit: John Roca

A Suffolk County judge Wednesday ordered a community-service evaluation for a disbarred lawyer who has pleaded guilty in the largest white-collar theft ring ever prosecuted in Suffolk.

Criminal Court Judge James F.X. Doyle had been expected to pass sentence Wednesday on Ethan Ellner, one of several defendants who has admitted to crimes in an $82-million mortgage fraud scheme involving straw buyers and phony purchases that played a role in crippling the East End real estate market.

But instead of sentencing Ellner, the judge adjourned the Riverhead court hearing after prosecutor Thalia Stavrides and defense attorney Raymond Perini, of Hauppauge, asked for the community service assessment. "Probation should have the opportunity to evaluate him," Doyle said. "I'll adjourn it."

Those already sentenced in the 2002-2009 crimes include a former county legislator and a Manhattan newspaper publisher and his wife -- a dominatrix who ran a club named The Dungeon.

Based on the court-ordered evaluation, Ellner could be sentenced to community service instead of incarceration. Before entering a plea arrangement he faced 68 felony charges of conspiracy, grand larceny, money laundering and scheme to defraud.

Ellner was a Plainview lawyer who practiced in Ronkonkoma before his disbarment.

-- With Andrew Smith

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