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DA: Man dupes mother-in-law, steals $600,000 in scam

A former Woodbury mortgage broker duped his mother-in-law into signing real-estate documents that allowed him to steal more than $600,000 from several financial institutions, prosecutors said Tuesday.

John Tuozzo, 44, was arrested Tuesday morning on charges of grand larceny, falsifying business records and scheming to defraud. He faces up to 15 years in prison, according to the Nassau County district attorney's office.

Tuozzo, of 142 Woodlake Dr., was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in First District Court in Hempstead.

"For a mortgage broker to use his knowledge of the industry to steal from innocent victims is bad enough, but to deceive your own family in order to fatten your wallet is on an entirely different level," District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement.

Rice's office said in a release that Tuozzo had his mother-in-law sign documents for a near-million dollar mortgage and multiple lines of credit. The deals have left her facing civil lawsuits and foreclosure proceedings on a home she had no idea she owned, prosecutors said.

In October 2005, Tuozzo, a self-employed mortgage broker, needed to obtain two mortgages totaling $939,000 so that he and his wife could purchase a home on Harvard Avenue in Merrick, Rice's office said. Since Tuozzo and his wife had filed for bankruptcy in 2001, they were unable to secure financing on their own. Tuozzo's mother-in-law agreed to cosign the mortgages.

She was unaware that in the mortgage application Tuozzo fraudulently indicated that his mother-in-law had been the "chief operating officer of his mortgage company for seven years and earned $25,000 per month," officials said in a release. She was also unaware that Tuozzo listed her as the sole borrower on the loan and sole property owner, prosecutors said.

In May 2006 and again in October 2007, Tuozzo again deceived his mother-in-law into signing documents for securing additional funding, officials said. In 2006, he obtained a $285,000 mortgage loan and a line of credit of $185,000. In 2007, she signed documents that she believed were for a new mortgage loan so that Tuozzo could refinance the Merrick property and get a better interest rate, authorities said.

In reality, the 2007 documents "opened a $472,000 credit line," prosecutors said in a news release. "While most of that went toward paying off the property's mortgages, more than $21,000 went into Tuozzo's personal bank account. Tuozzo also rang up an additional $130,000 on the first credit line."

Tuozzo and his wife divorced last year, and the Merrick property is being foreclosed on. As a result, Tuozzo is "being sued civilly by several financial institutions for the balance of the money owed after a foreclosure sale," prosecutors said.

The district attorney's crimes against real estate unit, created in March 2009, investigated the case.

A phone call to Tuozzo's attorney, Joseph Conway of Farmingdale, was not immediately returned.

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