Lawyer Convicted of Wire Fraud Charges Disbarred

, The Legal Intelligencer

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A Pittsburgh real estate attorney convicted of several counts of wire fraud has been disbarred by the state Supreme Court.

John L. Chaffo Jr. was convicted in federal court of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection to dozens of fraudulent real estate loan transactions, according to the disciplinary board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Chaffo was convicted in 2010 on nine counts of wire fraud and two conspiracy counts and sentenced to serve 57 months in federal prison, according to the disciplinary board.

The court accepted the report and recommendation of its disciplinary board to disbar Chaffo on Nov. 15.

In its report, the board noted that Chaffo's "convictions are conclusive proof that [Chaffo] committed these crimes as well as incontrovertible evidence of [Chaffo's] professional misconduct."

Additionally, the board said in its report that Chaffo's refusal to recognize his guilt weighed against him as an aggravating factor.

"[Chaffo] … refuses to acknowledge his guilt," the report said. "Instead, he asserts his innocence and claims that the existence of widespread fraud within the mortgage lending environment somehow makes his conduct less culpable. In keeping with his distorted view of his actions, [Chaffo] expresses no remorse."

According to the report, Chaffo closed approximately 60 real estate loan transactions, charging anywhere from $300 to $500 as a fee. The documents related to the closings were fraudulent in that they falsely reported that the purchasers of properties made significant down payments when they had not, the report said.

In addition to the false settlement statements, according to the report, Chaffo's scheme involved elevated sales prices and purported seller-held mortgages that didn't exist.

"The victims of [Chaffo's] conspiracy lost between $1 [million] and $2.5 million," the report said.

After a July 6, 2010, jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Chaffo was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud, according to the report. On Dec. 7 of the same year, Judge Donetta W. Ambrose sentenced Chaffo to 57 months imprisonment for each charge to be served concurrently.

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