June 15, 2024

New Jersey’s leading loan officer and his former assistant have come under fire, facing charges for involvement in a major mortgage fraud. The U.S. Department of Justice is behind these accusations.

Christopher Gallo, a 44-year-old from Old Tappan, Bergen County, and his former assistant, Mehmet Elmas, a 32-year-old U.S. citizen residing in Turkey, are the individuals in question. They both face a single count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and have been released on a $200,000 unsecured bond following their appearance in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge André M. Espinosa in a federal court in Newark.

According to court documents and courtroom statements referenced by the Justice Department, from 2018 to 2023, Gallo and Elmas were involved in fraudulent activities. They allegedly falsified loan documents, misleading various mortgage lenders, including previous employers, for approval of mortgage loans. It is also claimed that they lied about the purpose of the mortgage loans, stating they were intended for buying primary residential homes rather than rental properties or investment, in order to secure cheaper rates.

Gallo has been named as New Jersey’s top loan officer since 2020, cited by Scotsman Guide, a leading national mortgage industry publication. He has originated over $1.4 billion in loans from 2018 to 2023, as per courtroom documents, and was ranked fourth in the nation from 2021 to 2022.

The alleged fraud took place while Gallo and Elmas were employees of NJ Lenders Corp., a mortgage loan company based in New Jersey. NJ Lenders Corp’s attorney Mark Tabakin expressed the company’s cooperation with the ongoing investigation and law enforcement, affirming its commitment to integrity and professionalism.

The accusations against the former employees suggest financial gain was a motive. They represent a betrayal of the company’s trust and brand reputation, Tabakin added.

Moreover, the conspiracy accusation includes the falsification of property records, such as the safety features of buildings and the financial information of potential borrowers, all in an attempt to obtain mortgage loan approval.

The accusation of conspiracy to commit bank fraud can lead to a 30-year prison sentence and a fine of $1 million, or twice the gross gain or loss from the crime, whichever is greater.

The Justice Department has emphasized that any charges or allegations contained in the complaint are solely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

#### Frequently Asked Questions

##### What are the accusations against Gallo and Elmas?

Gallo and Elmas are accused of being part of a fraudulent scheme where they supplied falsified loan documents to various lenders for the approval of mortgage loans. Also, they hid the fact that the mortgage loans were meant for purchasing investment properties or rentals, rather than primary residential homes.

##### What is the potential consequence for committing bank fraud?

Those convicted of the charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud could face up to 30 years in prison. Additionally, they might receive a $1 million fine or twice the gross gain or loss from the fraudulent activity, whichever is greater.

##### Are the allegations proven?

Currently, the allegations against Gallo and Elmas are solely accusations. They are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty.