Ex-Westporter, charged with mortgage scam including local property, jailed
Updated 10:42 am, Wednesday, February 13, 2013
A former Westport resident's graduation from the $260,000 fraud perpetrated on Newtown Oil customers in 2002 to a $4.8 million mortgage scam -- that included Westport properties -- has earned him nearly 16 years in federal prison.
"This is not aberrant behavior," U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall told William Trudeau, 50, at one point during his five-hour sentencing Tuesday at federal court in New Haven. "This is your way of living -- to defraud people."
Hall also imposed a 30-month prison term and a $12,500 fine on Heather Bliss, Trudeau's 37-year-old wife, who as a paralegal in Wilton helped push through mortgage applications.
"She was involved from the beginning," Hall said. "She's all over everything."
In addition to the pair, the six-year-long scam included Joseph Kriz and John Bryk, two area lawyers; Fred Stevens, a mortgage broker, and Thomas Preston, an appraiser, all of whom have pleaded guilty to charges in this case.
Among the 12 victims of the scam were Chase, Citibank and the now defunct Washington Mutual and IndyMac banks as well as private citizens like Christopher Coyle, a retired assistant Westport fire chief, who testified during Trudeau's trial that he never received payment on the $257,500 mortgage he gave Trudeau.
The $550,000 purchase of Coyle's property at 87 Saugatuck Ave. in Westport was completed with the retired fire chief agreeing to provide a $257,500 mortgage at 5 percent interest. He said Trudeau promised to pay off after three years. That mortgage is in default.
"It's crystal clear to me that he (Trudeau) was the leader," Hall told Trudeau's court-appointed lawyers, James K. Filan and Ross H. Garber. "The fact that his name doesn't appear on any papers doesn't mean his fingerprints are not all over the fraud."
Trudeau, most recently a Norwalk resident, was attempting to develop and sell multi-million dollar homes in Newtown before the financial crisis.
Filan tried to convince Hall to go easier on his client. The former federal prosecutor pointed out that the jury acquitted Trudeau of seven of the nine charges against him.
"That has to count for something," Filan said. "It's important the we respect the jury's verdict. It promotes respect for the law."
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Kale advised the judge that Trudeau has little respect for the law. "He continued to commit crimes up until the day he was brought in ... While in prison he was already planning his next crime."
In the past, Trudeau has been found guilty of nine state larceny charges after his now-defunct Newtown Oil failed to deliver on $260,000 in 2002 prepaid winter fuel contracts to customers. He also was sentenced to 22 months in federal prison after he admitted not paying $232,000 in employment taxes from 1993 to 1997 for workers at Newtown Oil and an auto repair business.
The judge, who once served as Trudeau's lawyer, pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI, resigned his position, was placed on probation and has paid a $5,000 fine.
During the trial in this case, Filan blamed the banks, which he said "did not always follow their guidelines. They were giving mortgages to people who couldn't afford them and then turning around and selling those mortgagees to Wall Street."
Filan said his client, who has been incarcerated since August 2011, intends to appeal both the conviction and the sentence.