By Ogozi John
The president of Castle Mortgage based in Florida has pleaded guilty in federal court to his crime of conspiring with others to defraud a bank in a $2.4 million property loan deal.
Joseph W. Nocito Jr., 44, of Edgeworth, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwabon, of bank fraud conspiracy and filing a false tax return.
According to a statement from Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Houghton, Nocito was the childhood friend of a man identified as a conspirator and owner of Sosso Homes LLC in Sarasota, FL., and in 2005 this man bought a house in Longboat Key, FL., with the intention to renovate and resell the property.
But when he was unable to find a buyer after two years, and was also unable to make payments on a $1.62 million loan he had collected from Liberty Savings Bank, he offered the property to Nocito who then agreed to buy the house using a mortgage from Washington Mutual Bank.
Before the sale was made, his friend’s brother who was also the owner of a realty company and a title company, made false evaluations of the value of the house so that they could present it to the bank that Nocito was paying $3.5 million for the property, and was making a $600,000 down payment.
“Mr. Nocito never paid nor intended to pay the very large down payment. In fact, the other conspirators kicked back about $458,000 to reward Nocito for his role in the conspiracy,” Houghton said.
Nocito failed to report the kick-back as income while filing his 2007 tax returns, and so underpaid his taxes by about $155,000.
Eventually, when Nocito defaulted on the mortgage loan payments, and the Washington Mutual Bank suffered losses of over $1.8 million.
During court proceedings, Nocito remained silent, refusing even to answer questions asked by the judge. His attorney, Mark Rush said that Nocito is cooperating fully with ongoing government investigations as he wants to resolve the case and get back to his life.
As part of the plea agreement, Nocito will pay restitution to the bank and the Internal Revenue Service. He faces up to four years in prison with sentencing scheduled for October 15.