Thursday, June 4, 2009

Massive Mortgage Fraud In Queens: NYC Media Ignore It

Back in 2007, I wrote three posts on an unbelievably sleazy criminal, one Thomas Kontogiannis.

I contacted the news rooms at several local papers, including the Times, the Daily News, the Post, and a paper or two in Queens. Nothing but crickets in response. This is no boring story: Tommy K is now in prison for bribing California GOP Congressman Duke Cunningham. This was HUGE news on the West Coast - but not a single column inch of coverage here in NYC. Why?

Via Talking Points Memo, Reuters has a story up on Kontogiannis's $92 million dollar mortgage fraud. Maybe this contributed to Queens foreclosure rates dwarfing those of every other borough.
Real estate developer Thomas Kontogiannis, 60, and eight other defendants are accused of orchestrating fraudulent loans that were subsequently sold to the financial firms.

Federal prosecutors and the FBI said the scheme was centered around property developments that Kontogiannis bought and subdivided from 2001 to 2003 in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.

To finance the projects, the defendants are accused of staging sales of the properties financed by mortgage loans. Bogus appraisals supported the price of the properties, even where buildings had not yet been constructed or had fictional addresses, said the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn, which is prosecuting the case.

The Daily News failed to cover any aspect of this story, except for this mention in an article about tax delinquents:
Federal prosecutors who indicted Long Island financier Thomas Kontogiannis for laundering bribes to California Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham tied him to at least 22 companies including Westshore 480 Development, which, the city says, owes $751,708 in taxes on a waterfront property in Brooklyn.
A lawyer for Kontogiannis denied his client owned Westshore 480 or owed money for its property taxes. "He has no ownership and no liability," lawyer Robert Wolf said. "It would not be accurate to report that he does."

Apparently this guy was also involved in some shady business with spy agencies. All the more reason local papers should take an interest in an investigative story - but so far, no takers. What gives?


Anonymous said...

I have had the same results when I reported to several news outlets and the FBI,Attny General ect. I currently live in one of his apartment complexes which many of the 2 family dwellings are now in foreclosure by Wells Fargo. Queens Block 13041 located in Springfield Gardens on 140 Ave,141 Ave,183 & 184 st. We have our Civic Assoc.and the local officials investigating but no media coverage. Kontogiannis,Group Kappa Corp,Plaza Real Estate,Halifax and straw buyers have taken control of several buildings and the complex is in a horrible condition. The recent walk through by officials and housing agencies verify our claims. One Cross Island Plaza has proven itself to be a den of crimminals. The media has not been doing its job in reporting these crimes to the public. How many other buildings are controlled by them???

Gary said...

Thanks for the comment. The (lack of) coverage of what was obviously a major criminal enterprise was very frustrating to me.

Good to see someone else has been paying attention.