Plot to Kill Key Witness in Mortgage-Fraud Case

Aaron Hand, already convicted in a $100 million mortgage-fraud scheme and serving a sentence of eight years and four months to 25 years, was sentenced to eight to 16 more years for plotting to have a key witness in his case killed, the Huffington Post reports.

Hand admitted that he began trying to set up the murder of one of the people who had testified against him during his trial in 2010.

The witness was one of 27 people who pleaded guilty or were convicted in a case that involved corrupt lawyers and mortgage brokers who scammed both buyers and sellers in the mortgage-fraud scheme.

“The case itself was filled with rats. Big time. One – one got me pretty … good,” Hand told an investigator posing as a would-be hit man in a conversation that was recorded secretly when they met at Coxsackie Correctional Facility in the Hudson Valley in August. “You don’t get a free pass in life when you put away 30 … people.”

Hand said he would pay the undercover agent $2,000, telling him that if he were not behind bars, “I’d kill him myself.”

Hand’s first plan involved having the agent block the driveway of the witness to trap him. If the witness’s spouse and children were at home, they were to be murdered as well.

After Hand decided that the killing should be done somewhere else, he told the agent to make it look like it was gang-related by painting gang symbols on the witness’s car.

While this case has details not normally associated with white-collar crime, many lives were damaged in the original case as well.

AFG Financial Group, which was based in Garden City, NY (and is not related to American Financial Group, which is based in Cincinnati), found straw buyers with good credit but in need of cash to pretend to buy real estate owned by people with financial woes. The conspirators falsified property appraisals and loan qualification packages to get banks to finance mortgages and then took the money for themselves. Bank losses were in the millions of dollars.

The straw buyers ended up with bad credit. The sellers found their properties foreclosed upon.

Jon Lewin is a Feature Writer for the Compliance Exchange and Wall Street Job Report. He is also a columnist for the Faster Times and a blogger for Subway Squawkers. Lewin’s work has appeared in the New York Daily News, Huffington Post and Digital Innovation Gazette as well as the “Cambridge Companion to Baseball” and the Daily News history essay collection “Big Town Big Time.”

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