Landlord sentenced in $6M Bronx mortgage fraud scheme

67-79 East 161st Street and Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

Landlord Mark Benun was sentenced Friday in Manhattan Federal Court to 51 months in prison for a mortgage fraud scheme involving the sale of a $5.9 million commercial property at 67-79 East 161st Street near Yankee Stadium in the Highbridge neighborhood of the Bronx, according to federal prosecutors.

Benun was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay forfeiture in the amount of $5.5 million, according to the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara.

“I sold a property that I did not own,” he admitted to the judge, according to a court transcription.

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Prosecutors said that Benun, 35, as owner of a Manhattan-based real estate investment firm called MBM1, bought the property for $9.5 million and used forged documents to sell the property for $5.96 million, despite the fact that he only owned 25 percent of it, according to the indictment. He later wired some of the proceeds of the sale to out-of-state bank accounts.

Benun was arrested last April at his Manhattan home and pleaded guilty in December to four counts of interstate transportation of stolen property.

The day he entered his guilty plea, Benun acknowledged the role that the easy-credit days of the real estate boom played in his crime.

“It was a long six or seven years of free money in New York and credit markets,” Benun told the judge, according to a transcription. “My luck in big money is, [as a result of] my own will, over.” TRD