A disbarred Wading River attorney previously convicted in a $4 million real estate Ponzi scheme was indicted last month for wire fraud in connection with an alleged theft that occurred prior to her conviction, according to a federal indictment.
Alice Belmonte, 49, bilked two California real estate investment companies out of approximately $1.8 million in March 2013, according to a May 12 grand jury indictment. Her latest arrest came just over one month after she was released from prison, New York State Division of Parole records show.
Ms. Belmonte had pleaded guilty in July 2014 to felony larceny, forgery and theft charges stemming from a foreclosure scam in which prosecutors said she forged contracts, faked e-mails from banks and signed her victims’ names for them while she bought new cars and took vacations to California with the stolen funds.
She was sentenced to serve three to 9 years in state prison, but was granted an early release on April 11, state records show.
At her latest arraignment in Eastern District Court of New York May 19, Ms. Belmonte pleaded not guilty to two charges of wire fraud and was released on a $500,000 bond, court records show.
A company connected to her most recent arrest, which was not named in the indictment, has alleged that $1.8 million it had wired to an escrow account Ms. Belmonte set up for real estate investments was redirected in March 2013 to her personal bank account after she forged “fraudulent disbursement instructions” in the name of one of the companies to the escrow company involved in the transaction.
Ms. Belmonte’s attorney, Brian Waller of Manhattan, declined comment on the charges Monday.
Prior to her initial arrest in October 2013, Ms. Belmonte was a sole practitioner, with offices in New York City and on Long Island specializing in real estate purchases and investments.
She told victims she had contacts with banks involved in real estate owned-listings, better known as foreclosures, that failed to sell at auction and were owned by lenders, according to records from her previous arrest.
That scheme started in 2011, when Ms. Belmonte told investors that all they had to do was deposit money in her escrow account as “proof of funds” to let her prove to the foreclosure listing owners she could close the deal, according to the documents.
She reportedly stole from 10 victims at the time, starting with a group of investors from Florida in late 2011. According to prosecutors, she secured contracts with each of the victims over the next several months, asking them to wire $3.6 million in total into her escrow account, court records show. Within days, the invested money had been taken out — in some cases on the same day it was deposited by her victims — and then held in other bank accounts run by Ms. Belmonte, which were later used to repay other investors lined up in the scheme.
In a 2013 state Supreme Court proceeding tendering her resignation as an attorney after 20 years, Ms. Belmonte admitted she “could not defend herself on the merits” of those charges. Her resignation was accepted and she was disbarred.
Ms. Belmonte is due back in court before Judge Leonard Wexler on June 29.
Photo credit: New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision