In sickness and in health: Lawyer, wife allegedly teamed up to scam mortgage lenders

by Ryan Smith14 Aug 2020

A disbarred Massachusetts real estate attorney and his wife were apparently equal partners in everything in their marriage – including, allegedly, orchestrating multiple mortgage scams.

Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr., 60, and Nancy Plunkett, 55, are each facing the possibility of decades in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines after being charged with five counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft in connection with various mortgage fraud schemes. Barry Plunkett has also been charged with tax evasion.

According to the Department of Justice, Barry Plunkett owned and operated the Plunkett Law Firm until his disbarment in 2017. Nancy Plunkett served as his office assistant and paralegal. According to prosecutors, the Plunketts orchestrated several mortgage scams that cheated lenders out of millions and ran both before and after Barry Plunkett’s disbarment.

In one scam that ran from September 2012 to July 2016, the Plunketts allegedly bilked six mortgage lenders and 14 homeowners for whom the law firm handled the closings for refinance loans on residential properties. Federal prosecutors said that the Plunketts told the lenders that pre-existing mortgages were paid off from the new loan proceeds when, in truth, they intentionally failed to pay off the prior liens and siphoned off more than $900,000 in payoff funds for their own use.

In various other scams that ran between April 2015 and March 2018, the Plunketts apparently used various names and entities, along with phony documents, to obtain three successive – and successively larger – mortgages on their Hyannis Port, Mass., home. The Plunketts convinced lenders to give them mortgages of $412,000, $470,000, and $1.2 million, respectively, pledging as collateral a Hyannis Port property held in a family trust of which Barry Plunkett was one of three beneficiaries.

Both Barry and Nancy Plunkett allegedly provided false documents to the lenders, including phony title reports and other records to falsely claim that the property was free and clear of existing mortgages. They also allegedly forged documents in the names of other people and told a lender that Nancy Plunkett was a single woman purchasing the property under her maiden name as a business investment. In fact, the Plunketts had been married since 2014, and the property was their residence.

If convicted, the Plunketts could each face more than three decades behind bars. The bank fraud charge provides for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of tax evasion could garner Barry Plunkett a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and another $250,000 fine. The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence, to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed.