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Couple charged in $16-million scam in 4 states

A Queens couple was arraigned Friday on charges that in a precisely timed scam, they stole homes, goods and cash from a dozen individuals in four states worth $16 million within a 24-hour period, officials said.

At least $3 million in property and assets came from Long Island victims, officials said.

Matthew McEntee, 50, and Marina M. Mora, 45, both of 157-33 Rose Ave., Flushing, were arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on charges of grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, criminal possession of a forged instrument, and schemes to defraud.

Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney, said they could serve up to 25 years imprisonment if convicted. A third suspect is still being sought in this case, official said.

McEntee and Mora posed as officers of a corporation interested in purchasing property, and beginning Friday Jan. 27, they staggered multiple sales closings for properties in Pennsylvania, Texas, California and New York, including Oyster Bay, the DA's office said.

In addition to the property deeds that were turned over to McEntee and Mora at the closings, the sellers often brought the couple, as requested, cash, vehicles and jewelry, in exchange for the promise of double the goods value to be paid for at the closings with checks.

Among those properties signed over to McEntee and Mora was a home in Oyster Bay on two acres, along with antique furniture there and a Mercedes-Benz for $3 million, officials said. Another house, also in Nassau County, worth $700,000 along with two SUVs and the building's furniture were signed over for checks, officials said.

The certified corporate checks for the properties were worthless, the DA's office said, and were drawn on nonexistent HSBC bank accounts. After a short investigation, the couple was located, and arrested, officials said.

Attorney Marc Layland of Franklin Square, who is representing McEntee, said, "It's not as one sided as it appears . . . The additional investigation will shed some more light as to what's going on. I can't get into much more, now."

Mora's attorney could not be reached for comment.

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