Methuen Mortgage Officer Headed to Prison After Committing Bank Fraud

(File photograph.)

Forty-one-year-old Vanessa Ricci of Methuen was sentenced to six months in prison for her role in a local bank and mortgage fraud scheme. (File photograph)

Methuen mortgage loan officer Vanessa Ricci is headed to prison after being sentenced in federal court Wednesday in connection with a Merrimack Valley bank and mortgage fraud scheme.

Forty-one-year-old Ricci was sentenced to six months in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay more than $963,000 in restitution after participating in sham “short” sales of residential properties in Haverhill, Methuen and Lawrence.

From 2007 to 2010, Ricci and her co-conspirators, real estate closing attorneys Jasmin Polanco and Hyacinth Bellerose, along with realtor Greisy Jimenez, allegedly carried out a scheme to defraud banks through bogus short sales in which the purported sellers remained in their homes, with their debt substantially reduced, the Department of Justice said.

An alternative to foreclosure, a short sale takes place when a property is sold for less than the value of any existing mortgage debt on that property.

Ricci and her co-defendants are said to have submitted false documents in an effort to encourage sellers’ banks to permit the short sales and encourage buyers’ banks to provide financing for the transactions. She and her co-conspirators also allegedly furnished phony earnings statements to support loan applications.

Polanco and Jimenez are both scheduled to be sentenced in June. Bellerose was sentenced in March to time served and one year of supervised release to be served in home detention.