Brooklyn developer Eliyahu Ezagui found guilty of stealing $18M from Hasidic families
BY JOHN MARZULLI AND WILLIAM SHERMAN • New York DAILY NEWS
A ambitious Brooklyn developer was found guilty Tuesday of stealing more than $18 million from dozens of Hasidic families and several banks in a massive subprime mortgage scam.
Eliyahu Ezagui, 39, preyed on his fellow congregants, sold them condominiums but never gave them the deeds when construction was finished.
Instead, he gave the deeds to family members - including his wife, father and mother. He then used the deeds to take out mortgages on 53 apartments he didn't own and pocketed the money.
The verdict came after a two week Brooklyn federal court trial, the culmination of case that directly resulted from an investigation by The Daily News two years ago.
Ezagui, who declined comment, is facing more than 12 years in prison with his mail fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy conviction.
Robert Tolchin, lawyer for many of the defrauded condo buyers said: "The verdict is only bittersweet and my clients are saddened that things came to this, and that Mr. Ezagui apparently got himself in so deep, he stopped being honest."
Because Ezagui didn't make payments on the illicit mortgages to lending banks, the condo owners are facing foreclosure proceedings and eviction in a separate civil court proceeding.
"Now that the fraud has been established, I expect that the (civil) court will recognize the mortgages as fraudulent and cancel them," said Tolchin.