HYANNIS — A former real estate attorney and his wife, both of Hyannis Port, were convicted Thursday in federal court in Boston of various mortgage fraud schemes, including defaulting on mortgages for customers who refinanced their home loans .
Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr., 62, was sentenced to 78 months in prison and five years of supervised release, according to a press release from the Office of U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollinswho pursued the case.
Plunkett was also ordered to pay $3.2 million in restitution and forfeit an additional $3.2 million.
Nancy Plunkett, 57, was sentenced to one year and a day in prison and five years of probation. She was also ordered to pay restitution of more than $3 million together and separately with Barry Plunkett, and forfeit $3.2 million.
The sentences were handed down by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf. The Plunketts were charged in July 2020.
Compensation for victims
A spokesperson for Rollins’ office said the victimized private owners were being compensated by a title insurance company. Restitution ordered at sentencing concerns entities that had not yet been compensated.
Besides the title insurance company, which owes about $1 million, these entities also include Quickenloans and Velocity, which together owe about $2 million.
On March 4, the couple pleaded guilty to five counts of bank fraud. Barry Plunkett also pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of tax evasion.
Before being disbarred in October 2017, Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. owned and operated the law firm Plunkett in Needham. His wife, Nancy Plunkett, was his office assistant and paralegal, the statement said.
The Plunketts engaged in several bank fraud schemes, according to authorities.
In one, from September 2012 to July 2016, they defrauded six mortgage lenders and 14 landlords for whom the law firm Plunkett handled closings of new mortgages to refinance residential properties.
Defendants informed mortgage lenders that pre-existing mortgages were paid off from new loan proceeds when in fact the Plunketts intentionally failed to repay prior liens and instead converted more than $900,000 into repayment funds for their own purposes, the press release states.
In other bank fraud schemes – between April 2015 and March 2018 – the Plunketts used false names, entities and documents to secure three successive mortgages on their Hyannis Port home for amounts of $412,000, $470,000 and $1.2 million. The defendants pledged property in Hyannis Port that was held in a family trust of which Barry Plunkett was one of three beneficiaries.
False title reports and other documents were also given to lenders to misrepresent that the property was free and vacates existing mortgage liens and forged documents in other people’s names.
A lender was led to believe that Nancy Plunkett was a single woman living in Wellesley who was buying the property under her maiden name as a business investment despite the Plunketts having been married since 2014 and the property being their home.
How to protect yourself from fraud
Consumers can protect themselves against mortgage fraud by ordering a free copy of their credit report each year, Rollins told the Barnstable Patriot.
“If you see a loan balance you don’t recognize, call your lender or finance professional immediately,” she said.