A Long Beach man and two others used phony documents with forged signatures to claim $394,216 in unclaimed funds from the auction of a foreclosed Queens home, the office of Queens County District Attorney Melinda Katz said Thursday.
The defendants, through a corporation called East Coast Money Finder Inc., acquired the funds from the 2006 foreclosure of a Cambria Heights home, according to a news release from Katz's office. The money had been in a New York City Department of Finance unclaimed surplus fund, the release said.
Jonathan Marcus, 53, of Long Beach, Vincent Longobardi, 76, of Brooklyn and Edward Doran, 46, of upstate New Windsor, along with the corporation, were arraigned Wednesday in Queens County Supreme Court.
“My office will continue to investigate, prosecute and seek justice for victims when scammers try to take advantage of Queens homeowners,” Katz said in the release.
The three men and the corporation were charged with second-degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal possession of stolen property, two counts of first degree falsifying business records, two counts of first-degree identity theft, two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, two counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and fourth-degree conspiracy, according to the release.
It was unclear Thursday night whether the defendants entered pleas at their arraignments or had retained defense attorneys.
In April 2010, Longobardi contacted the city finance department to confirm that the agency was holding surplus funds related to the 2006 sale, the release stated. In February 2012, Marcus made an inquiry, Katz's office said, and in December 2015, Longobardi allegedly filed a third request on behalf of East Coast Money Finders.
In April 2015, East Coast Money Finders, Inc. filed a motion in Queens County Supreme Court claiming it was assigned rights to the surplus funds totaling nearly $350,000, the release said. In support of the motion, two documents purportedly signed by the rightful owners of the house, and Marcus, who was and still is the president of East Coast Money Finders. Inc, were filed with the court, according to the release. The purported signatures of the victim and her late husband on the forged documents were notarized by Doran, the release said.
According to the charges, the motion outlined that the surplus funds — in excess of the amount owed on the foreclosed home sold at auction — would be divided between the company and the couple.
In January 2016, Doran contacted the city finance department about missing documentation necessary to claim the surplus money, the release said, and Marcus submitted the needed information a few days later.
After the defendants provided the necessary paperwork, a check for $394,216 was deposited into East Coast Money Finders, Inc.’s bank account, which was controlled by Marcus, according to the release. Longobardi and Doran allegedly received checks for nearly $130,000 from the account. Several thousand dollars were also allegedly transferred from the East Coast Money Finders, Inc. account to the personal bank account of Marcus.
The scheme was revealed in January 2021, according to Katz's office, when the woman who owned the home with her husband at the time of the 2006 foreclosure sale attempted to claim the surplus funds. Neither the 67-year-old woman nor her husband had signed documents giving anyone else access to the funds, the release said. The victim said neither she nor her husband received any of the money disbursed in February 2016.
The defendants are due back in court May 10. The three men face up to 15 years in prison, if convicted, according to Katz's office, and East Coast Money Finders, Inc. faces a fine up to $788,000, or double the amount it profited from the crimes.