Woman who stole mortgage money and gambled it away, gets prison - Reuters
By Neale Gulley
BUFFALO, NY | Thu Feb 2, 2012 6:02pm EST
BUFFALO, NY (Reuters) - A former foreclosure counselor who gambled away more than $300,000 she stole from her upstate New York clients was sentenced on Thursday to six years in federal prison.
Lori Macakanja pleaded guilty in October to felony mail fraud and theft of government money after being confronted by managers at her employer, HomeFront Inc. in Buffalo, New York.
"It appeared to be cold and calculated fraud against the poor victims who have suffered greatly as a result of what she did," U.S. District Court Judge Richard Arcara said at the sentencing.
Prosecutors said Macakanja, who suffers from bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses, visited casinos and gambled away her clients' money.
"It was nothing I thought I would ever be capable of doing." a tearful Macakanja said in court. "I really never thought that this would snowball into such a mess."
HomeFront, which is connected with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and works with homeowners to refinance mortgages or avoid foreclosure, did not become aware of the thefts until almost a year and a half after they started.
As a result, the company's insurance policy does not cover the losses ...