Lakehurst condominiums are at the center of a fraud investigation that ensnared a Wall Township developer, several of his family members and an associate, authorities said.
Around 6 a.m. Wednesday, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, along with other law enforcement agencies, arrested four members of Wall's Colatrella family and charged each in connection with fraudulent financial activities, including mortgage loan activities, according to a release from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
The Prosecutor’s Office says those arrested bilked $2 million from a real estate deal “flipping’’ scheme involving condominium units located at 114 Center Street in Lakehurst, according to the release.
- Christopher Colatrella, 40, of Martin Road, the owner of CMC holdings LLC;
- John T. Colatrella, 49, his brother, of Martin Road, the owner of Colatrella Properties;
- Alexis Colatrella, 27, daughter of John T. Colatrella, of Martin Road, a former employee of Mortgage Line Financial Services;
- Vincent Veritas, 24, John Colatrella’s step-son, of Martin Road;
- Delores Cittadino, 79, John Colatrella’s mother-in-law, of Long Branch; and
- Martin Damato, 27, of Colonia, a former Mortgage Line Financial employee.
The release says the property was sold by Chris Colatrella to his family members and the associate, who then fraudulently misrepresented their employment and income to obtain mortgages on the properties, which subsequently went into foreclosure.
“Our investigation found probable cause to believe these transactions, involving Chris Colatrella and his family members and business associate, were sham transactions, not entered into in good faith, and with the ultimate goal of bleeding off the profits. It is illegal and criminal to obtain mortgage funds under these circumstances,” Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford said in the release.
In addition to charges relating to the fraud and conspiracy, Chris Colatrella and Alexis Colatrella are also charged with money laundering. The pair is also, along with John Colatrella, charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to the release.
The arrests culminate an investigation which took place for more than a year, according to the release.
Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, the Wall Township Police Department, the Long Branch Police Department, the Eatontown Police Department, and the Woodbridge Police Department also were involved in the arrests, the release says.
Bail was set by Ocean County Superior Court Judge Francis Hodgson, in the amount of $500,000, no 10 percent option, for Chris Colatrella, John Colatrella and Alexis Colatrella, the release said.
“These are complicated financial cases to investigate and to prove," Ford said in the release. "However, financial frauds like this one are against the law, and cause many other consumers and businesses to shoulder the loss occasioned by this conduct. In the end, we all pay for financial crimes.”
Bail was set at $100,000 for Martin Damato, according to the release.
For Vincent Veritas and Dolores Cittadino, bail was set at $35,000, the release said.
Anyone with information about these charges may contact Detective Mark Malinowski of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027.