A.G. Schneiderman Announces Arrests Of Husband And Wife Fugitives In Syracuse Mortgage Fraud Case
Alexander And Sima March Arrested 5 Years After Fleeing To Canada
Alexander March Also Charged With Conspiring With His Former Attorney, Jon A. Lefkowitz, To Allegedly Tamper With Witnesses Who Testified In Grand Jury That Indicted March And Wife In 2011, In Attempt To Evade Extradition
Schneiderman: We Will Bring Fraudsters to Justice, No Matter How Long It Takes
Posted September 21, 2016
SYRACUSE- Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today the arrests of Alexander March, 34, and his wife Sima March, 35, for their roles in an alleged residential mortgage fraud scheme. Both Marches were indicted in May 2011 on charges of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, but fled to Canada before they could be arrested. After years of extradition proceedings, the Marches surrendered to New York State authorities yesterday at the Canadian border and were arraigned in Onondaga County Court.
Alexander March was also arraigned yesterday on a second indictment charging him with Forgery in the Second Degree and Tampering with a Witness in the Fourth Degree, among other charges, for allegedly conspiring with his former attorney, Jon A. Lefkowitz, to tamper with witnesses who testified in the grand jury related to the mortgage fraud case, in an attempt to evade extradition from Canada.
“We have zero tolerance for mortgage fraud, and witness tampering erodes the basic principles upon which our justice system was founded,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “My office will continue working to ensure that fraudsters, cheaters and swindlers are brought to justice, regardless of how long it takes.”
According to statements made by the prosecutor at arraignment, a joint investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Department of Financial Services revealed that between February 2006 and July 2010, Alexander March and his wife allegedly engaged in a residential mortgage fraud scheme involving multiple properties in Syracuse.
“The Department of Financial Services is committed to aggressively rooting out mortgage fraud that exploits and unfairly targets innocent New Yorkers,” said Maria T. Vullo, Superintendent of Financial Services. “DFS is pleased to work with the Attorney General’s office with this investigation and in helping to ultimately bring these defendants to justice.”
Alexander March allegedly purchased numerous properties in Syracuse and then immediately conveyed title to his wife, Sima March. Sima March subsequently applied for refinancing on six of these properties. In refinancing the properties, the Marches allegedly falsely stated their assets and submitted forged documents. Relying on the statements in the loan applications, lending institutions gave the Marches over $240,000 in mortgage funds. The Marches then allegedly defaulted on the mortgages, forcing the banks to initiate foreclosure proceedings on the refinanced properties.
On May 16, 2011, an Onondaga County Grand Jury charged Alexander and Sima March with six counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a Class D felony, six counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a Class E felony, and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a Class E felony. After the indictment was filed, arrest warrants for Alexander March and his wife were issued. However, the Attorney General’s Office later learned that the Marches had fled the United States together and entered Canada at the Champlain Border Crossing on May 13, 2011. Thereafter, the Attorney General’s Office initiated proceedings to extradite Alexander and Sima March from Canada and return them to Onondaga County for prosecution.
According to statements made by the prosecutor at arraignment, after the commencement of extradition proceedings, Alexander March, together with Brooklyn attorney Jon A. Lefkowitz, allegedly engaged in a conspiracy to tamper with grand jury witnesses who had testified against the Marches. In an attempt to undermine the credibility of witnesses who had testified related to the mortgage fraud case, Alexander March and Lefkowitz allegedly demanded that the witnesses sign affidavits and answer questionnaires that would discredit their prior sworn testimony. In furtherance of their conspiracy, Alexander March and Lefkowitz allegedly impersonated various individuals, including attorneys, and sent out forged “judicial subpoenas” that appeared to have been authorized by a New York State Supreme Court Judge.
In November 2015, Alexander March was charged on a second indictment in Onondaga County Court with four counts of Forgery in the Second Degree, a Class D felony, ten counts of Tampering with a Witness in the Fourth Degree, a Class A misdemeanor, seven counts of Criminal Impersonation in the Second Degree, a Class A misdemeanor, and one count of Conspiracy in the Sixth Degree, a class B misdemeanor. Lefkowitz, who was previously arrested on November 5, 2015, was charged on the same indictment with four counts of Forgery in the Second Degree, ten counts of Tampering with a Witness in the Fourth Degree, two counts of Criminal Impersonation in the Second Degree and one count of Conspiracy in the Sixth Degree.
The Marches were arraigned yesterday before the Honorable Thomas J. Miller in Onondaga County Court. Bail was set for Sima March at $50,000 bond. Bail was set for Alexander March at $50,000 bond on the mortgage fraud indictment and $200,000 cash on the witness tampering indictment. Both defendants were required to surrender their passports, and Alexander March was also required to wear an ankle bracelet to monitor his whereabouts. They are due back in court October 14.
The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. If convicted, the defendants face up to seven years in prison.
The Attorney General thanked the New York State Department of Financial Services for their valuable assistance in this investigation. The Attorney General also thanked the United States Department of Justice for their assistance in apprehending the defendants.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Tarkowski of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Gary Fishman and Deputy Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.
The case was investigated by Attorney General Investigators Samuel Scotellaro and David Buske, led by Deputy Chief Investigator Tony Karam. Investigator Scott Petucci also assisted in this investigation. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella.