Two Southwestern PA Men Charged with Defrauding HUD Program
PITTSBURGH (STL.News) Two southwestern Pennsylvania residents have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh, on conspiracy and fraud charges, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.
The four-count Indictment, returned on September 21, named Richard Sunseri, 36, of Pittsburgh, PA, and Matthew Durbin, 41, of McMurray, PA as the defendants.
According to the Indictment, from in and around April 2017 until in and around December 2017, Sunseri and Durbin knowingly and willfully conspired to defraud the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and falsified statements by bidding on and purchasing property as intended homeowners, only to renovate and the sell the property for profit and splitting the commissions.
More specifically, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Single Family Property Disposition Program allows individuals to purchase a home from HUD after a Federal Housing Administration loan forecloses. The program is designed to encourage ownership by families who intend to reside in the homes as owner/occupants by allowing those families to bid on the foreclosed properties before the process is opened up to real estate investors who merely intend to profit, short-term, by “flipping” the houses.
Here, as alleged, Sunseri and Durbin, in an effort to jump the line ahead of other real estate investors, falsely certified on bidding forms that they intended to occupy the homes as owner/occupants, when, in fact, they intended to flip the homes for profit. This unlawful abuse of the Single Family Property Disposition program has two effects that frustrate the program’s purpose: first, it can allow real estate investors to potentially outbid families who otherwise would purchase the home and reside in the community and, second, it allows real estate investors to jump the line and bid on foreclosed homes before other investors are eligible.
The law provides for a term of imprisonment of not more than five years in prison, a fine not greater than $250,000. or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin J. Risacher is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development-Office of the Inspector General conducted the investigation leading to the Indictment in this case.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.