NLPC has asked federal prosecutors to investigate the sale of a home by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), alleging that it was sold at an inflated price and that the purported buyers could not have qualified for a mortgage. The 2006 transaction was handled by an attorney named Alexander Kaplan, who was subsequently convicted of 18 counts of mortgage fraud and is currently serving a 46-month prison sentence.
The sale of the home at 660 Grassmere Terrace in Far Rockaway, New York appears to have allowed Meeks to purchase his present Queens home in late 2006 that New York City classifies as a “mansion.” In March 2010, NLPC alleged in a Complaint to the House Ethics Committee that Meeks paid $830,000 for the newly built home that was actually worth $1.2 million.
In the request to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, NLPC pointed out that Kaplan’s fraud included inflating the value of properties and securing 100% financing for straw buyers. Regarding the valuation of the Grassmere house, which was sold for $402,800, NLPC asserted:
New York City building records show 660 Grassmere as built in 1952 with the last significant renovation in 1954. The Grassmere Terrace property was sold to Cecil Lloyd and Evelyn Miller for $413 per finished square foot. It certainly appears very odd that a tiny, small older home would be worth more than twice as much per finished square foot as a newly built mansion.
We used Meeks’ low-balled purchase price of $830,000 on the new home in calculating that the old home was valued at twice as much on a square foot basis. If the actual value of $1.2 million were used, the disparity would be even greater.
And who were the buyers? NLPC pointed out:
Cecil Lloyd, one of the two buyers, appears to have been incapable of having the creditworthiness to purchase the Meeks property.
Lloyd filed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern District of New York on May 6, 2011. The debtor was discharged on August 16, 2011. Even a cursory examination of the case file shows an individual who could not qualify for a mortgage even given the loose standards that applied during the mortgage meltdown.
Mr. Lloyd stated that he has been unemployed with no income, no pension and almost no financial assets. He lists his 2006 income – the year of the home purchase – as being $9,895. He described his living arrangements as a tenancy in common with his girlfriend, Evelyn Miller.
NLPC also provided prosecutors with information indicating Lloyd and Miller may never have lived at the Grassmere address. The request concludes:
Given the modus operandi of Alexander Kaplan and his fellow criminals in arranging numerous mortgage frauds and the facts of the transaction in question, I believe that a compelling case has been made to investigate whether the sale and mortgage of the Grassmere Terrace property was yet another example of mortgage fraud.
The same U.S. Attorney’s office is prosecuting another mortgage fraud case involving Guyanese businessman Edul Ahmad, who is accused of running a $50-million scheme before his 2011 arrest. Ahmad made an unsecured personal loan to Meeks in 2007 that was not disclosed by Meeks until June 2011, and only after the FBI reportedly started reviewing Meeks’ finances. The House Ethics Committee is currently investigating the Ahmad loan.
According to our sources in New York, the prosecution of Ahmad, and his relationship with Meeks and other political figures, has created many rumors and much nervousness about where it will all lead. Stay tuned.