Ten charged in mortgage fraud scheme

NEWARK, NJ — Ten defendants have been indicted and are being arraigned on charges that they allegedly engaged in a countywide mortgage fraud scheme that included racketeering, theft, tampering with records and money laundering, according to a May 29 press release from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. The scheme included the abuse of the New York City Special One Time Assistance Program, a program that prepaid landlords one year of rent to relocate families from homeless shelters in New York City. 

Those charged are Darnell Alford, 42, of Toms River; Travis Glover, 57, of Jackson; Albert Johnson, 54 of Hillside; Christina Barnett, 37, of the Bronx, N.Y.; Lashawn Glover, 50, of Jackson; Vera Johnson, 74, Hillside; Sean Huey, 42, of Piscataway; Donnette Ford, 51, of Piscataway; Cherryl Sharp, 62, of Clarksburg; and Jalisa Clark, 31, of Irvington.

Alford and Barnett remain at large; warrants have been issued for their arrests.

Between 2016 and 2019, these individuals are alleged to have recruited unsuspecting buyers to purchase investment properties in Newark, East Orange and Irvington. With little to no down payment and questionable financial stability, the buyers were led to entrust the entire mortgage application process to Alford and Travis Glover, sometimes never even seeing the home they were purchasing in person. The buyers were allegedly promised that their homes would be filled with tenants, that the properties would be managed by Alford and his associate, Barnett, and that the buyers would receive monthly income from the property. 

They were doing business under the name of four companies: Alford & Associates; Integrity First Construction and Property Management; Barnette Consulting Group; and 83 & Company.

Many of the homes were purchased at inflated prices. It is alleged that Alford, Travis Glover, Albert Johnson and Barnett conspired to facilitate the purchase of a total of seven homes and obtained more than $1.8 million by deceiving mortgage lenders. They are alleged to have manipulated applications and temporarily gifted monies to the unsuspecting buyers to obtain the loans from the mortgage company. The “gift money” was recovered from the inflated loan that was disbursed at the time of closing. It is further alleged that the buyers were not aware that a significant portion of the monies they were borrowing, anywhere between $50,000 and $106,000, was being paid to Alford, Travis Glover and Albert Johnson. 

In some cases the victims were young professionals who were told their student loans would be paid off as part of the transaction. 

It is alleged that after closing, Barnett, who was presented as the “property manager,” failed to manage the properties. The homes were in various states of disrepair. The tenants, which were supposed to be income-generating to the buyer, were often clients of the New York City SOTA program. The defendants had collected the year of prepaid rent from the SOTA program and allegedly absconded with those funds. The defendants ultimately abandoned the tenants and left the new unsuspecting owner with an unmaintained building. All seven homes fell into foreclosure. 

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Ted Stephens II credited Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Caroline Oliveira and Essex County Detective Lloyd Martin with the investigation that led to the indictment of the 10 individuals.

These are accusations. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they enter a guilty plea or are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

Any members of the public who may have additional information regarding this case should contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Financial Crimes Unit at 973-688-3041. Calls will be kept confidential.

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