Ex-lawyer gets 15 months in flipping scheme

August 27, 2002|By John B. O'Donnell | John B. O'Donnell,SUN STAFF

A disbarred Towson attorney was sentenced yesterday to 15 months in federal prison for his role in a property flipping and mortgage fraud scheme that authorities discovered after he went to the FBI with similar allegations against a former associate.

Angus E. Finney, the former attorney, had pleaded guilty in January 2001 to one count of mail fraud in a 17-count indictment, admitting that his activities cost lenders as much as $500,000.

In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis agreed to recommend that Finney serve it in a halfway house. He also ordered him to serve three years of supervised release after his prison term.

The sentence was imposed four days after an East Baltimore man, Oscar Alm, pleaded guilty to his role in a separate flipping scheme, admitting that he cost lenders as much as $800,000. Alm, 49, is scheduled for sentencing Oct. 17.

Leon Wilkowsky, a sometime partner of Alm's, is scheduled for sentencing Thursday. He pleaded guilty in November, admitting that he cost lenders up to $2.5 million.

In another case, a 30-year-old native of Zimbabwe, Makushamari Gozo, was arrested Friday on a flipping charge. An affidavit filed by FBI agent James J. Costigan listed nearly two dozen properties that Gozo sold. The affidavit said Gozo entered the United States in 1992 on a student visa that expired Dec. 31, 1999, and that he has used several names and Social Security numbers.

Illegal property flipping involves the purchase of low-cost properties and their quick resale at inflated values, using falsified documents to obtain mortgage loans.

Some flippers seek prospective homeowners as buyers. Others including Alm, Wilkowsky and Finney look for aspiring landlords who are willing to buy more than one house.

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