New York City Man Sentenced to 48 Months for Bank Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft

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SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Jason Safford, age 46, of Queens, New York, was sentenced today to 48 months in prison after previously pleading guilty to bank fraud, attempted wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft, announced United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Janeen DiGuiseppi, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

In addition to his sentence of imprisonment, Safford was ordered to serve a 3-year term of supervised release following his release from incarceration and to pay restitution to his victims in the total amount of $1,322,295.

Safford, who holds himself out as a Wealth Architect, Investor, and Executive Coach, admitted in pleading guilty previously that he applied for a mortgage refinance loan in October 2016 on behalf of Safflyn Green Industries, Inc., a company in which he had an ownership interest. In support of that loan application, Safford submitted false bank statements, false deposit verification documentation, and a false appraisal for the property at issue, which is located at 350 Galina Lane in Mohawk, New York, and is commonly referred to as the “Gelston Estate.” RS Lending, a financial institution then operating in San Francisco, approved the loan application and funded it for more than $1.3 million in December 2016. The loan is now in default status, and nearly $1.2 million remains outstanding.

Safford also admitted in his guilty plea that in 2018 he applied for a $2 million mortgage refinance loan for the Gelston Estate through an upstate New York brokerage firm. Once again, Safford created and submitted false bank statements and a falsified appraisal in support of this loan application. When questioned about the appraisal by the brokerage firm about the appraisal, Safford obtained a letter from a licensed appraiser confirming that the appraiser had appraised property located at 980 Robinson Road in Mohawk, New York—which is next to the Gelston Estate—for $325,000 on September 16, 2014. Safford modified and forged this letter to say, falsely, that the appraiser had appraised the property located at 350 Galina Lane on January 31, 2018, for $2,448,500.00, and Safford sent the falsified letter to the brokerage firm, along with modified and falsified copies of the appraiser’s license and professional liability coverage information. This loan was never funded.

Finally, Safford admitted that he assisted in obtaining investments from multiple investors to develop the Gelston Estate and 980 Robinson Road properties and that the investors’ money was not all used to develop the properties. The restitution Safford was ordered to pay will go to four individual investors and to the company that purchased RS Lending when it went out of business.

This case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael F. Perry.

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