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Mortgage Broker Pleads Guilty to Scam

MANHATTAN (CN) - The owner of a Long Island mortgage brokerage, First Class Equities, pleaded guilty Monday to a $66 million mortgage fraud scheme, federal prosecutors said.

Gerard Canino, 51, of Merrick, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

Canino admitted he used straw buyers to buy homes from distressed owners from 2004 to 2009, running the scam out of his company's offices in Oceanside and Old Westbury, N.Y. His ring filed bogus loan documents and skimmed "tens of thousands of dollars or more per transaction," prosecutors said in the statement.

He faces up to 30 years in prison at his Sept. 17 sentencing.

His co-defendants are scheduled for a trial that begins on July 2.

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