“Members of this scheme were willing to launder money, and even to kill, in order to get their hands on the profits and cover their tracks”
Public Defender Seth Fuscellaro arrested by FBI in Lower Township
Federal authorities arrested 11 people — including Lower Township Public Defender Seth A. Fuscellaro and a real estate agent — in Cape May County, on Thursday as part of a $15 million mortgage fraud scheme involving condominium units in the Wildwoods as well as other locations in New Jersey and Naples, Fla.
Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Fuscellaro in Municipal Court. Fuscellaro, 39, of Wildwood Crest, was escorted out in handcuffs for his alleged role in the scheme. Angela L. Celli, a real estate agent with Century 21 Alliance in North Wildwood, also was arrested.
The indictment, returned by a federal grand jury on Tuesday, alleges a conspiracy that used phony documents and “straw buyers” to purchase condominiums at inflated prices in a saturated market. The conspirators used fraudulent loan applications and unqualified buyers to make money on the deals, paid at the expense of lending companies that backed the purchases.
The federal investigation began in 2008 but the first case of alleged fraud dates to 2006.
All 11 defendants have been charged with wire fraud and five of them also were charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. There were numerous other “co-conspirators” listed in court documents who were not charged but supplied information to authorities.
One has been charged with attempted murder in a plot hatched in Ocean County but carried out in the woods of Alabama. A straw buyer, who had received a subpoena to testify in the case, was shot multiple times but survived.