PITTSBURGH- Two residents of Upper St. Clair, PA, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh, on conspiracy and fraud charges, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.
The three-count Indictment, returned on September 21, named J. Reed Pirain, 45, and Renee Vasilko, 48, as the defendants.
According to the Indictment, from in and around February 2018, until in and around March 2019, Pirain and Vasilko knowingly and willfully conspired to defraud the Department of Housing and Urban Development and falsified statements by bidding on and purchasing property as intended homeowners, only to renovate and the sell the property for profit.
More specifically, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Single Family Property Disposition Program allows individuals to purchase a home from HUD after a Federal Housing Administration loan forecloses. The program is designed to encourage ownership by families who intend to reside in the homes as owner/occupants by allowing those families to bid on the foreclosed properties before the process is opened up to real estate investors who merely intend to profit, short-term, by “flipping” the houses. Here, as alleged, Pirain and Vasilko, in an effort to jump the line ahead of other real estate investors, falsely certified on bidding forms that Vasilko intended to occupy the home as an owner/occupant, when, in fact, Pirain and Vasilko intended to flip the home for profit. This unlawful abuse of the Single Family Property Disposition program has two effects that frustrate the program’s purpose: first, it can allow real estate investors to potentially outbid families who otherwise would purchase the home and reside in the community and, second, it allows real estate investors to jump the line and bid on foreclosed homes before other investors are eligible.
The law provides for a term of imprisonment of not more than five years in prison, a fine not greater than $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin J. Risacher is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development-Office of the Inspector General conducted the investigation leading to the Indictment in this case.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
USAO - Pennsylvania, Western;
Department of Housing and Urban Development OIG