A suspended New Jersey lawyer may spend the rest of his life behind bars after pleading guilty to numerous charges in a real estate scam.
Scott Marinelli, 52, pleaded guilty this week to six counts of wire fraud and six counts of aggravated identity theft, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced.
Marinelli confessed that between November 2017 and April 2018, he defrauded victims out of proceeds from the sales of six properties. He posed as a real estate broker and title agent, directing a mortgage company to wire him loan funds for the sales. Marinelli’s communications were with the San Francisco-based LendingHome Funding Corporation, according to the Pocono Record.
Rather than dispersing those funds properly, however, Marinelli admitted to using the money for his own benefit. He stole more than $280,000 from his victims in the Poconos, according to NJ.com.
He was allegedly hired by multiple victims as the owner of Mountain Lakes Abstract Company in Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania, but sold their homes without permission. One property alleged that Marinelli forged the owner’s signature on deeds and didn’t have the owner present during the closing.
As part of his scheme, he stole the identities of multiple people, including property sellers, a notary public, a title agent and an accountant.
On the wire fraud charges alone, Marinelli faces a maximum of 120 years in prison. The aggravated identity theft charges carry an additional two-to-12 years sentence for Marinelli. A sentencing date for Marinelli has not been set.
Marinelli’s legal headaches don’t end with this guilty plea, since he’s facing additional and unrelated state charges in New Jersey and federal charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and mail fraud in Washington, D.C.
Marinelli was suspended from practicing law for two years in July 2021 amid ethical concerns, receiving some votes to be disbarred altogether.