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Press Release
District Attorney Vance Announces Sentencing in $100 Million Mortgage Fraud Case
AFG Financial Group, Inc. Principals Given Significant State Prison Sentences

September 21, 2010

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of AARON HAND, KENNETH LAW, ERIC SHIELDS and JERRY STRKLJA for perpetrating a massive mortgage fraud scheme conducted through a corrupt loan origination company called AFG Financial Group, Inc. The defendants were previously found guilty earlier this year of multiple felonies, including Enterprise Corruption, Scheme to Defraud, Conspiracy, and dozens of Grand Larcenies.

“Crime was the business of AFG – these four defendants went to work every day with the intent to commit mortgage fraud; it was literally their job,” said District Attorney Vance. “This scam would not have been possible without the contributions of these four defendants, who each played an integral role in the formation and daily activities of the company. I would like to thank Judge Berkman for recognizing the seriousness of these crimes, which contributed to the collapse of the securitized debt market.”

Beginning in July 2008, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office launched its investigation into the activities of AFG, called “Operation Broken Brownstone,” which revealed a nearly four-year path of mortgage fraud totaling well over $100 million in bad loans.  To date, there have been nearly 30 convictions resulting from the investigation.

District Attorney Vance thanked Assistant District Attorneys Edward Starishevsky, Garrett Lynch, and Harold Wilson, all under the supervision of Principal Deputy Chief Gary T. Fishman; paralegal analysts Richard Kim, Song-Mee Yoon-Smith, Katie Ko, Alexis Etow, and Steve Hsia; and DANY Investigators Thomas Jackson, Gerald Bergold, Michael Wigdor, Santiago Batista, Stephen McCallion, and Chief Investigator Walter Alexander.  Senior Investigative Counsel Richard T. Preiss also assisted in the trial. District Attorney Vance also thanked the New York State Banking Department.

Defendant Information:

AARON HAND, D.O.B. 12/25/1971
Oyster Bay Cove, NY

Sentence:

  • 8 and 1/3  – 25 years in state prison

ERIC SHIELDS, D.O.B. 12/19/1964
Media, PA

Sentence:

  • 5 ½ – 16 ½ years in state prison

KENNETH LAW, D.O.B. 6/01/1956
Pelham, NY

Sentence:

  • 5 to 15 years in state prison

JERRY STRKLJA, D.O.B. 10/03/1974
Queens, NY

Sentence:

  • 3 to 9 years in state prison

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