Ogiony en­ters guilty plea in Mor­gan fraud scheme

The Buffalo News - - CITY&REGION - By Matthew Spina NEWS STAFF RE­PORTER

ROCHESTER – A Buf­falo mort­gage bro­ker pleaded guilty Fri­day and agreed to co­op­er­ate with fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in a case in­volv­ing Mor­gan Man­age­ment, a de­vel­op­ment firm that owns thou­sands of apart­ments and prop­er­ties in Buf­falo, other up­state cities and more than a dozen states.

Pa­trick Ogiony had been a prin­ci­pal at Aurora Cap­i­tal Ad­vi­sors LLC when he took part in schemes to make apart­ment com­plexes look more prof­itable than they re­ally were so they could be re­fi­nanced for higher amounts. Mort­gage bro­kers are paid based on a per­cent­age of the mort­gages they help ar­range.

An in­dict­ment re­leased in May al­leged that four busi­ness­men, Ogiony among them, in­flated rent rolls and in­come state­ments and con­spired to make va­cant apart­ments look oc­cu­pied by leav­ing shoes out­side the doors, for ex­am­ple. The goal was to trick lenders into be­liev­ing the com­plexes had more ten­ants than they ac­tu­ally did.

Ogiony, 35, pleaded guilty to one count of con­spir­acy to com­mit bank fraud. In do­ing so, he be­came the sec­ond de­fen­dant to plead guilty in

Ogiony

Ogiony

the case. Kevin Mor­gan, who had been a vice pres­i­dent of Mor­gan Man­age­ment, pleaded guilty in De­cem­ber to the same charge. Mor­gan is a nephew of com­pany founder Robert C. Mor­gan.

Like Kevin Mor­gan, Ogiony is now as­sist­ing pros­e­cu­tors and agents with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The terms of his guilty plea re­quire him to pro­vide com­plete and truth­ful in­for­ma­tion about any mort­gage fraud, bank fraud or wire fraud he knows about. Both men have been al­lowed to re­main free.

In a deal much like the one Mor­gan worked out with the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, Ogiony faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but his prison time could be re­duced to less than three years if pros­e­cu­tors are pleased with his co­op­er­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to de­tails that U.S. District Court Judge El­iz­a­beth A. Wol­ford read into the record.

While Robert Mor­gan has not been charged, Kevin Mor­gan said as he pleaded guilty that his il­le­gal acts oc­curred “at the di­rec­tion of my un­cle.”

As he ad­mit­ted guilt, Ogiony said he had been “in­structed by my em­ployer” at Aurora Cap­i­tal Ad­vi­sors to par­tic­i­pate in ef­forts to make the apart­ment com­plexes look more prof­itable.

Ogiony’s em­ployer was Frank Gi­a­cobbe, the owner and one of the re­main­ing de­fen­dants in the case. Gi­a­cobbe has pleaded not guilty. The fi­nal re­main­ing de­fen­dant is Todd Mor­gan, the son of Robert Mor­gan and a for­mer Mor­gan Man­age­ment ex­ec­u­tive.

Ogiony’s lawyer, Joseph LaTona of Buf­falo, later re­fused to com­ment on whether Ogiony has in­for­ma­tion on Gi­a­cobbe, Robert Mor­gan or oth­ers. An at­tor­ney for Robert Mor­gan, John Sper­anza of Rochester, at­tended the hear­ing Fri­day. He, too, re­fused to com­ment for The Buf­falo News.

The News be­gan re­port­ing in 2017 about the un­usu­ally high val­ues on some mort­gages of­fered to Mor­gan prop­er­ties. The News re­vealed at the time that a fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion was un­der­way.

The in­dict­ments an­nounced 10 months ago rocked Mor­gan Man­age­ment, which is tran­si­tion­ing into a suc­ces­sor com­pany called Grand At­las Prop­erty Man­age­ment. Some as­sets have been sold. The sale of prop­er­ties in Texas led to a law­suit in which Her­bert Mor­gan as­serts that his brother, Robert, did not pro­vide him with his share of the pro­ceeds. Lawyers for Robert Mor­gan say in court papers that Her­bert Mor­gan mis­un­der­stands the agree­ment be­tween the two and that Robert Mor­gan has done noth­ing im­proper.

Mean­while, some Morganowned com­plexes have gone onto watch­lists for prop­er­ties in dan­ger of de­fault. One lender, Steep­rock Cap­i­tal, is listed in court papers re­lated to Ogiony’s plea as a vic­tim of the fraud con­spir­acy. Steep­rock wants to seize and sell three of the Mor­gan Man­age­ment prop­er­ties it helped fi­nance, the Rain­tree Is­land apart­ment com­plex in the Town of Ton­awanda and two com­plexes in Syra­cuse’s sub­urbs. Two Mor­gan-re­lated en­ti­ties have sued to block Steep­rock’s ac­tion.

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