Tri-state briefs

New Jersey
B-baller goes from hard court to federal court

Tate George, a onetime New Jersey Nets basketball player, was arrested last month on charges of running a $2 million Ponzi scheme under the guise of a real estate development firm, the Newark Star-Ledger reported. George, a Newark native, is famous for hitting “The Shot” — a last-second jumper in the 1990 NCAA Tournament — while playing for the UConn Huskies in college. His company, the George Group, claimed to manage $500 million in assets. Would-be investors, some of whom were former professional athletes, gave George some $2 million to buy and develop real estate around New Jersey. Instead, he allegedly used the money to pay existing investors and for personal expenses, such as improvements to his home, restaurant meals and clothing. Authorities said the George Group actually had virtually no income-generating operations. George maintained his innocence and said he intends to plead not guilty. He was released on $250,000 bail. If found guilty, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

CT residents get loans to delay foreclosure

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Over 1,000 Connecticut residents have secured interest-free loans, thanks to a foreclosure prevention program created by last year’s financial reforms, according to the Hartford Courant. The Federal Homeowners’ Loan Program provided 1,070 loans totaling roughly $55 million to Connecticut residents, the Courant said. Under the program, up to $50,000 worth of aid was available to borrowers who had experienced a 15 percent reduction in income due to unemployment, underemployment or medical expenses. The funds were part of the $1 billion given to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under the federal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority and CHFA-authorized counseling agencies received more than 3,600 applications before the Sept. 1 deadline. Connecticut, one of five states to qualify for funding, was initially given $33 million but that was increased, given the volume of applications. The loans, for borrowers who were 90 days delinquent on their mortgage payments, required borrowers to be reasonably likely to resume paying their mortgage within two years. Loans do not have to be repaid as long as the borrowers keep their primary residences for at least five years and, in that period, they make their mortgage payments on time.

County mourns builder

Well-known Westchester developer Martin Berger, who is credited with transforming downtown White Plains, died last month after suffering heart failure. He was 81. “He was literally a guy that shaped the Westchester business and residential landscape,” Jon Halpern, CEO of Halpern Real Estate Ventures, told Westfair Online. Berger formed his company, Robert Martin Co., in 1959 with partner Robert Weinberg. The two developed condos, office buildings and parks throughout the county. At the time of Berger’s death, the company was working on a $20 million project to build a Super Stop & Shop on an undeveloped lot in Tarrytown. Berger also served on the Westchester County Parkway Commission. In 1999, the Journal News named Berger and Weinberg as two of Westchester’s most influential people of the 20th century.

Compiled by Russell Steinberg