Wall Township Developer and Family Charged In Mortgage Fraud Probe
A Wall Township developer, four family members and a business partner are under arrest in connection with a year-long probe of mortgage fraud in Ocean County.
Christopher Colatrella, 40, owner of CMC Holdings LLC, is accused of raking in more than $2,000,000 through falsely-obtained mortgages for condos in Lakehurst that later entered foreclosure. He was apprehended today along with his brother John, 49, owner of Colatrella Properties.
Also charged are John Colatrella's 27-year-old daughter Alexis, his 24-year-old stepson Vincent Veritas, his 79-year-old mother-in-law Delores Cittadino and Martin Damato, 27, a former employee of Mortgage Line Financial. All live in Wall except for Mrs. Cittadino, who lives in Long Branch, and Damato, a Colonia resident.
Investigators believe the Colatrella sold the units at 114 Center Street to his family members and Damato. They allege that they borrowed the money using bogus information about employment, income and assets. The subsequent foreclosures left the lender on the hook with no means of recovering the loans.
Colatrella and his niece are also charged with money laundering, and they along with his brother face a related conspiracy count.
In a statement, Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford characterized it as a "common mortgage fraud or 'flipping' scheme. In general the owner of a property sells to a straw purchaser. That purchaser pays for the transaction with funds borrowed from a mortgage lender. The seller realizes substantial profit. The problem is that the transaction is not 'arm's length,' and the buyer is acting at the direction of the seller."
Judge Francis Hobson in Ocean County Superior Court set bail for Chris, John and Alexis Colatrella at $500,000 each. Damato's bail was set at $100,000. Veritas and Mrs. Cittidino had their bails set at $35,000. None of the defendants has an option of gaining release upon payment of 10 percent of the total.
The investigation, dubbed "Operation Family Affair," is not yet closed. Anyone with information that can help investigators should call Detective Mark Malinowski at the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, 732-929-2027.
Assisting in the investigation were members of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and police in Wall Township, Long Branch, Eatontown and Woodbridge.