Hyannis Port couple sentenced for bank fraud, mortgage schemes
Barnstable Patriot, The (MA)
HYANNIS — A former real estate attorney and his wife, both from Hyannis Port, were sentenced in federal court in Boston Thursday in connection with various mortgage fraud schemes, including not paying off mortgages for clients who refinanced their home loans.
Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr., 62, was sentenced to 78 months in prison and five years of supervised release, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins' office, which prosecuted the case.
Plunkett was also ordered to pay restitution of $3.2 million and to forfeit another $3.2 million.
Nancy Plunkett, 57, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison and five years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay restitution of more than $3 million both together and separately with Barry Plunkett, and to forfeit $3.2 million.
The sentences were imposed by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf. The Plunketts were indicted in July 2020.
Compensation for victims
A spokesperson from Rollins' office said private homeowner victims were compensated by a title insurance company. The restitution ordered at sentencing is for entities which had not yet been compensated.
Along with the title insurance company, which is owed approximately $1 million, these entities also include Quickenloans and Velocity, which together are owed approximately $2 million.
On March 4, the couple pleaded guilty to five counts of bank fraud. Barry Plunkett also pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of tax evasion.
Prior to being disbarred in October 2017, Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. owned and operated the Plunkett Law Firm in Needham. His wife, Nancy Plunkett, was his office assistant and paralegal, the release indicates.
The Plunketts engaged in several bank fraud schemes, according to authorities.
In one, from September 2012 to July 2016, they defrauded six mortgage lenders and 14 homeowners for whom the Plunkett Law Firm handled the closings for new mortgage loans to refinance residential properties.
The defendants informed the mortgage lenders that pre-existing mortgages were paid off from the new loan proceeds when, in fact, the Plunketts intentionally failed to pay off the prior liens and instead converted more than $900,000 in payoff funds for their own purposes, the press release states.
In other bank fraud schemes — between April 2015 and March 2018 — the Plunketts used fake names, entities and documents to obtain three successive mortgage loans on their home in Hyannis Port in amounts of $412,000, $470,000, and $1.2 million. The defendants pledged as collateral a property in Hyannis Port that was held in a family trust for which Barry Plunkett was one of three beneficiaries.
False title reports and other records were also given to lenders to falsely represent that the property was free and clear of existing mortgage liens and forged documents in the names of other people.
One lender was led to believe that Nancy Plunkett was a single woman living in Wellesley who was buying the property in her maiden name as a business investment when the Plunketts had actually been married since 2014 and the property was their home.
How to protect yourself from fraud
Consumers can protect themselves from mortgage fraud by ordering a free copy of their credit report every year, Rollins has told the Barnstable Patriot.
"If you see a loan balance on it that you don't recognize, call your lender or financial professional right away," she said.
Residents may also use the Better Business Bureau's online Scam Tracker at bbb.org to monitor local fraudulent activity.
Zane Razzaq writes about housing and real estate. Reach her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @zanerazz.