Last of 8 accused home swindlers convicted

The last defendant in a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud case that officials say swindled four Westchester County families out of their homes was convicted of theft, fraud and conspiracy today.

A jury found Mildred Didio of Manhattan (left) guilty of four counts of second-degree grand larceny and one count each of first-degree scheme to defraud and fourth-degree conspiracy. All the charges are felonies.

She faces a maximum of 15 years in state prison when she is sentenced on Jan. 25. She also could be sentenced to a minimum of five years’ probation.

Prosecutors said Didio was involved in a group of eight who stripped homes from families in Croton-on-Hudson, Yorktown, Cortlandt and Mount Vernon; and scammed two mortgage lenders out of $1.4 million. All were arrested in 2009.

The group told victims, who they found through notices of public auction and foreclosure, that they could transfer their deeds to an investor, who would hold the titles while they saved money to reclaim their home.

But once the “investor” took title, the group’s members got inflated mortgages, which they used to pay off the original mortgage and kept the remainder for themselves. The former owners have filed lawsuits to try to reclaim their losses.

Didio, 46, represented the straw buyers or acted as a settlement agents for the lenders, according to prosecutors.

Hubert “Phil” Hall, a former editor at a precursor to The Journal News, and his wife, Doreen Swenson, are serving two to six years in prison after pleading guilty to grand larceny and fraud. Prosecutors said the Tarrytown couple helped set up the phony mortgages.

David Reback, an attorney from Rye Brook, and Amerigo DiPietro of Brewster, who owned Interstate Monetary Concepts in Briarcliff Manor, pleaded guilty to their roles in the scam. Prosecutors said they were the principal players. They  were sentenced to a year in jail.

Eileen Potash of Queens was convicted at trial of fourth-degree conspiracy but acquitted of grand larceny and fraud charges. She is serving five years’ probation.

Wilma Shkreli of Westwood, N.J., who posed an an investor, is to be sentenced Nov. 22 after pleading guilty to grand larceny.

This was Didio’s second trial for her role in the scam. Her first ended in a hung jury. Frank Corigliano, a lawyer from Newtown, Conn., was acquitted of all charges by the jury that convicted Potash and was hung on Didio.

Rebecca Baker

Rebecca Baker joined The Journal News in March 2004. She covers Eastchester, Bronxville and Tuckahoe, and was previously the state and county courts reporter in Westchester County. In prior jobs, she covered the Town of Greenburgh and Rockland County government and politics. Before coming to The Journal News, she was a municipal reporter for newspapers in New Haven, Conn. and Warren, Ohio.