The white collar criminals who are attempting to profiteer from the foreclosure crisis are just like other white collar criminals... they just don't get that they are criminals, just like pickpockets, burglars and muggers.
Geoffrey Goldman, an owner of a real estate investment business in upstate New York who was just sentenced to 4 to 12 years in state prison this week for a fraudulent multi-million dollar foreclosure rescue scheme that caused many innocent victims to be foreclosed and evicted, seems to exemplify this mentality.
"I am a good person," said Goldman at his sentencing, "and although I've committed crimes, I'm not a criminal."
Goldman's victims would probably dispute that.
Goldman and his co-conspirators used a business owned by Goldman, Rivertown Investments, to defraud various lenders, homeowners, and title insurance companies. Co-conspirators acting on behalf of Rivertown allegedly lured distressed homeowners into signing title over to the company by promising to lease the homes back to the distressed homeowner, with a promise that the homeowner would be able to regain title in the future, and that equity built during the lease period would be saved for the homeowner.
Once Rivertown had title to the properties, straw buyers under the control of the scheme's masterminds would purchase the properties from Rivertown, obtaining fraudulent mortgages with false statements inflating the straw buyers' incomes to finance the sham transactions. The straw buyers would then quickly sign their deeds over to a holding company in Rivertown's control. Griffon Title, a title company owned and controlled by Goldman, was used to facilitate the transactions involved in the scheme, concealing the true nature of the transactions from lenders, homeowners, and their title underwriter.
The scheme involved at least 105 properties in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey between 2003 and 2008. Rivertown defaulted on its promises to many of the homeowners properties, resulting in numerous evictions and cases where willing homeowners were unable to repurchase their homes as promised.
Meanwhile, the co-conspirators used profits from the scheme to buy trips to Europe and the Caribbean, vehicles, jewelry, a wine locker, and gambling sprees at casinos.
The crimes caused millions of dollars in losses to the victims, and untold stress and hardship. But at his sentencing, Goldman had the gall to point out that some of the affected homeowners were able to live rent free in their homes as the mess was being sorted out-- as if he was the only one not profiting from the situation.
I'm sure that Goldman truly believes that he is not a criminal... but he is deluding himself. He stole far more money than most common thieves do in their criminal careers.
Enjoy your time in state accommodations, Mr. Goldman. It sounds like you've earned it.