James Nassida, the former president of Century III Home Equity Inc., went on trial on Monday in a US district court presided over by Judge Donetta Ambrose. James and other defendants have been the target of a complex federal investigation that led to the exposure of one of the region’s largest mortgage fraud schemes.
According to federal authorities, James headed an “incubator of mortgage fraud” at Century III, a now-defunct mortgage broker firm that was based in South Hills, Pittsburgh. These allegations later spawned a comprehensive investigation by the US attorney’s Mortgage Fraud Task Force.
James’ sister, Janna Nassida (who was his second-in-command at Century III), went on trial with him on Monday. The Nassida siblings are accused of orchestrating a complex mortgage fraud scheme using fake documents to fool lenders into making millions of dollars in loans. Both siblings were alleged to have conspired with others to submit inflated borrower incomes and assets on loan applications dating from 2002 to 2008.
The siblings and their co-conspirators were alleged to have submitted bogus supporting documentation for the misrepresentations contained in the applications. They also submitted false appraisals that overstated the value of the properties serving as collateral for the loans.
Prosecutors allege that James used the proceeds from his fraudulent schemes to bankroll a fancy lifestyle, including the purchase of a $1.3 million home, a vacation home, and a sports car.
Many of James’ former employees have pleaded guilty in the last two years, including top loan officer Robert Denne and several lower-level officers, including Santino Achille, a former Pittsburgh police officer who worked at Century III before becoming a cop.
Many of James’ former employees have deals with the government for their cooperation and are expected to testify against him in the trial.
Cop pleads guilty in mortgage scheme