High Court surrenders Kildare man over alleged role in defrauding US banks

US seeking man’s extradition to prosecute him for 51 offences

American authorities have sought the extradition of Patrick Lee to prosecute him for 51 offences including 29 counts of wire fraud, six counts of unlawful monetary transaction and 16 counts of aggravated identity theft.

American authorities have sought the extradition of Patrick Lee to prosecute him for 51 offences including 29 counts of wire fraud, six counts of unlawful monetary transaction and 16 counts of aggravated identity theft.

 

The High Court has ordered the surrender of a Co Kildare man wanted by US authorities to face fraud, money-laundering and identity-theft charges.

Patrick Lee (41) is alleged to have knowingly engaged in a scheme with others to intentionally defraud numerous US banks and mortgage lenders out of loans for properties which were never repaid.

American authorities have sought his extradition to prosecute him for 51 offences including 29 counts of wire fraud, six counts of unlawful monetary transaction and 16 counts of aggravated identity theft.

Mr Lee of Newtown, Co Kildare, claims the allegations against him, which he absolutely denies, are incorrect and untrue.

The felony offences carry a total maximum sentence of up to 42 years in prison.

In the High Court, Mr Justice John Edwards said he was disposed to surrendering Mr Lee. The judge remanded him on continuing bail until Friday when a detailed judgment outlining the court’s reasons for surrendering him will be delivered.

Counsel for the Attorney General Cathleen Noctor BL told the court on a previous occasion that a number of properties were purchased in several locations around Boston between 2006 and 2007 and subsequently converted into one or more apartments.

The scheme allegedly involved a number of participants including Mr Lee, real estate lawyers and “straw buyers”, who were recruited to draw down mortgages on apartments they never intended to occupy.

The “straw buyers” were assured the properties would be resold within six months and received up to $20,000 each in exchange for their date of birth, social security number and signatures, all of which were required to draw down the mortgage loans.

Mr Lee is alleged to have fraudulently prepared appraisals of the properties, even though he was not a fully licensed appraiser under Massachusetts law, counsel said, and he received about $1 million for his role in the scheme.

“All of the properties fell into foreclosure and the lenders lost a lot of money,” Ms Noctor said.

The fraud is alleged to have occurred when the lenders wired the mortgage loans to real estate lawyers who closed the sales. Loan disbursements were made partly in reliance on appraisals forged by Mr Lee, counsel said.

Mr Lee has claimed the proceedings are being maintained notwithstanding the acquittal of one of his co-accused in a Massachusetts court.

Kieran Kelly BL, for Mr Lee, previously told the High Court that US Customs and Border Protection records showed his client was outside of the US when eight of the 51 alleged offences occurred.

Counsel further submitted that his surrender should not be granted under Irish legislation because 30 of the alleged offences postdated the enactment of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 and should be treated as having been committed in Ireland.

Ms Noctor said 22 of those alleged offences were committed while Mr Lee was outside of the US but he had not provided evidence to say where he was and “could have been anywhere”.

She said the indictment allowed for his prosecution in Massachusetts for matters that were committed outside of that jurisdiction.

The court heard that Mr Lee had bought pre-paid tickets for flights to Ireland on dates in 2006.

In an affidavit opened in court, Mr Lee claimed to have a number of health concerns for which he would not receive adequate care in the US prison system.

“I will be removed from my family and my family life will be shattered,” said Mr Lee.