A Brooklyn man was convicted yesterday on grand larceny charges, after illegally taking out a $1.6 million mortgage on his former co-op building at 242 South 2nd Street in Williamsburg. Fernando Maldonado faces up to 25 years behind bars for the 2008 crime, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.
Maldonado, who was named president of the co-op board at the building in 1985, was evicted in the late 1980s, the DA’s office said. He was able to carry out his scheme, according to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, because his name remained on the original deed after his eviction.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said that the case is part of his office’s ongoing effort to target mortgage fraud on a broader scale.
But Ken Womble, a lawyer with Brooklyn Defender Services and Maldonado’s attorney, maintained that Maldonado had not acted maliciously and was planning an appeal.
“He’s on public assistance; he’s living in public housing… Basically he was no mastermind, I’ll say that,” Womble said, explaining that Maldonado had hoped to use the loan to pay for upgrades at the South 2nd Street building, where his children still live, and get back in the good graces of the community living there.
“He had a lot of emotional connection to this building. He never received a dime [or] got a single penny from this,” Womble said.
While an investigation by city officials, which led to Maldonado’s arrest Feb. 18. 2009, showed that the former co-op board president had conned the Department of Finance into transferring the property to his name, Womble said that Maldonado’s acts were born out of ignorance.
“It started with him basically putting feelers out there and saying ‘my name is on the original deed… that has to mean something,'” said Womble, who declined to comment on the nature of Maldonado’s eviction more than 20 years ago. “He didn’t have bad motives… he was in so far over his head in terms of knowing what was going on.”