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‘Toto’ pleads guilty in real estate fraud

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Constant was charged with fraudulently arranging more than $1.7 million in loans for the purchase of four Brooklyn properties, Cuomo said.In a previous case, Constant was charged with receiving $45,000 to secure a "straw buyer" to fake the purchase of a home in Suffolk County. Cuomo said Constant pleaded guilty in that case as well.Constant was initially arrested in July and charged with grand larceny in connection with the Suffolk County scheme. Both cases originated under former Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and were prosecuted by the Attorney General's Organized Crime Task Force, which was investigating mortgage fraud in the New York City area.Cuomo's office did not respond to several requests for information about the case. Specifically, it was unclear how much jail time Constant faces as a result of his two guilty pleas. Constant's immigration status is also unclear. He has been under a deportation order since 1995, but for some reason has not been deported. In describing the Brooklyn case, Cuomo said Constant and other unnamed co-conspirators would locate a property for sale and generate an artificially high appraisal for that property. The defendants would then pay a "straw buyer" to submit his or her name and credit score to mortgage banks, which would approve loans for the purchase of the home at the inflated price, Cuomo said.The co-conspirators would then divert the proceeds from the loans to themselves. Constant served as the Suffolk County branch manager for D&M Financial Inc., a New Jersey-based mortgage bank, during the period when the scheme is alleged to have unfolded.Constant is well-known in Laurelton and throughout New York City's Haitian community. In September, a federal judge ruled that he had command and control over Haitian paramilitary forces that were responsible for the rape and torture of three anonymous Haitian women currently living in the United States. The judge ordered Constant to pay the women $19 million in damages.Constant is the former leader of FRAPH, or Front for the Advancement of and Progress of Haiti, a notorious death squad that brutalized Haitians following the overthrow of President Jean Betrand Aristide in 1991. Constant fled to Laurelton when Aristide was restored to power in 1994. Despite protests outside his real estate office and his Laurelton home, Constant was living freely in southeast Queens until his arrest in July.Reach reporter Craig Giammona by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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