Coakly announces judgment against real estate attorney

Bryan Cohen Nov. 2, 2011, 1:31pm


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced on Friday that a Marblehead real estate attorney has been found liable for his involvement in a foreclosure rescue scheme.

James Alberino is now banned from acting as a closing attorney or title agent in any real estate transaction in the state. The alleged scheme victimized distressed homeowners facing foreclosure.

"This judgment reflects the commonwealth's ongoing commitment to holding attorneys who facilitate mortgage fraud accountable for their conduct," Coakley said. "Closing attorneys should take note that if they put their personal financial interest ahead of their legal and ethical obligations, there will be consequences."

Following a September trial, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders ruled that James Alberino knowingly and willfully engaged in unfair and deceptive conduct as alleged by the commonwealth. The court found Alberino's actions egregious and particularly reprehensible given his status as a lawyer. The court ordered Alberino to pay the state $70,000 in civil penalties in addition to prohibiting him from acting as a closing attorney or title agent in any real estate transaction in Massachusetts.

In March 2007, Coakley filed a complaint against 19 defendants, including mortgage broker Leo Desire, mortgage brokerage company Primary Mortgage Resources Inc., and several closing attorneys, including Alberino.

The complaint alleged that the defendants engaged in a deceptive and unfair foreclosure rescue scheme that caused distressed homeowners facing foreclosure to lose equity and titles to their homes.

The complaint alleged Alberino facilitated the scheme in his capacity as a closing attorney by closing two mortgage loan transactions he knew were sham transactions and then willfully concealed the sham from his clients, the lenders.

This ensured that the transactions would proceed. In addition, Alberino allegedly made false statements on federally mandated HUD-1 Settlement Statements. The complaint further alleged that Alberino diverted sales proceeds from the distressed homeowners to his co-defendants and entities they controlled for services they had performed fraudulently or hadn't performed at all.

The September trial only concerned Coakley's charges against Alberino. The commonwealth previously announced that it had obtained judgments of more than $500,000 against Desire and 10 other defendants. The commonwealth will seek a final judgment against the remaining seven defendants who failed to appear in court and were defaulted.

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