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NH man to be tried in $13 million mortgage fraud scheme
CONCORD — A man accused of running a mortgage scam that bilked dozens of people into believing they were saving their homes, while prosecutors allege he pocketed $13 million in loan proceeds, was to plead guilty Tuesday, but he changed his mind.
The case of Michael T. Prieto, charged with mail fraud and money laundering, was continued for trial July 23 in U.S. District Court after the plea did not take place, according to the clerk of court's office.
According to an indictment, from 2005 through 2008, Prieto convinced homeowners struggling with mortgage payments to pay him rent on their homes in exchange for their deeds. They had an option to buy back their home in two years.
Unknown to the homeowners, Prieto allegedly used straw purchasers to take out new mortgages totaling more than $13 million on the properties through his various companies located on Elm Street in downtown Manchester.
According to the indictment, Prieto pocketed much of the money and spent it on personal expenses including meals at restaurants and trips to Foxwoods Casino in Ledyard, Conn.
The former homeowners, now tenants, were led to believe loan payments were being made that would help them keep their homes, the indictment said, but Prieto began missing payments and then stopped paying them altogether, according to the indictments.
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