A Mountainside man faces prison time for his role in a multi-million-dollar mortgage scheme in which he falsified documents on overly inflated properties to make the potential purchases appear more credit-worthy.
Paul Watterson, 53, if Mountainside pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Watterson’s guilty plea comes after a co-conspirator, John Bingaman, 44, of Venton, Ark., pleaded guilty to the same charges on Wednesday.
Watterson and his conspirators identified homes in Wildwood and Wildwood Crest and recruited straw buyers to buy them at inflated prices, according to a release from U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman. The Mountainside man then created phony loan applications that contained false information about income, assets, employment and the intended use of the properties.
Watterson and his conspirators then took a portion of the successful loan proceeds themselves by having money wired or checks deposited into their own accounts, Fishman said. Watterson gained $273,600 through the scheme, while Bingaman earned $271,789.98.
The wire fraud conspiracy charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The money laundering conspiracy is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Watterson’s sentencing is scheduled for March 13. Bingaman’s sentencing is scheduled for March 14.