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BOSTON – A mortgage loan officer was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Boston in connection with a sweeping conspiracy to defraud banks and mortgage companies by engaging in sham “short” sales of residential properties in Merrimack Valley.

Vanessa Ricci, 41, of Methuen, a mortgage loan officer, was sentenced to six months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of $963,730. In March 2018, Ricci pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

Co-defendants Jasmin Polanco, 37, a real estate closing attorney, previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 21, 2018; Greisy Jimenez, 50, pleaded guilty to two counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 6, 2018; Hyacinth Bellerose, 51, a real estate closing attorney, was sentenced in March 2017 to time served and one year of supervised release to be served in home detention after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud. 

The charges arose out of a scheme to defraud various banks via bogus short sales of homes in Haverhill, Lawrence and Methuen in which the purported sellers remained in their homes, with their debt substantially reduced. A short sale is a sale of real estate for less than the value of any existing mortgage debt on the property. Short sales are an alternative to foreclosure that typically occur...