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Suspended N.J. attorney admits $280K Poconos real estate scam

A suspended attorney from New Jersey who posed as a licensed real estate agent in the Poconos admitted he stole more than $280,000 by selling at least six properties without the owners’ permission.

Scott Marinelli, 52, of Mountainside, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to six counts of wire fraud and six counts of aggravated identity theft, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said.

For months, Marinelli — the owner of Mountain Lakes Abstract Company in Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania — sold properties belonging to three different victims without their permission. Although he had been hired by them, none of the three had yet approved the sale of their properties.

The man who had owned the properties said his signature was forged on the deeds and that he was not present at closing on the sales, officials said.

That didn’t stop Marinelli, who between November 2017 and April 2018, also stole the identities of a licensed title agent and a notary public to close on the properties in Tobyhana, Pennsylvania. Marinelli is neither a licensed title agent nor a notary public, authorities said.

He ended up collecting money from a mortgage company by arranging for the firm to wire him the loan proceeds and kept the fund for personal use, officials said.

Marinelli previously pleaded not guilty but changed his plea on Monday, according to court records. A sentencing date has not been set.

He is also still facing federal conspiracy, wire fraud and mail fraud charges in Washington D.C.

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