UTICA, N.Y. – A man from Queens has pleaded guilty to fraud charges after he forged documents to take out a mortgage refinance loan for Gelston Castle Estate in Mohawk.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, 45-year-old Jason Safford admitted to bank fraud, attempted wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, after illegally obtaining the loan on behalf of his company, Safflyn Green Industries, which operates Gelston Estates.
In 2016, Safford received a $1.3 million loan from RS Lending, after applying with fake bank statements and deposit documents. He also submitted a false appraisal for the property, which is located at 350 Galina Lane in Mohawk. The loan has now defaulted, with an outstanding balance of $1.2 million.
Safford also used forged documents in 2018 to apply for another loan for 980 Robinson Road, a property next to Gelston Estates, this time asking for $2 million. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the appraisal documents valued this property at $325,000 – but Safford altered the document to show the Gelston property appraised for more than $2.4 million. He then sent the falsified letter and fake copies of the appraiser’s license and liability coverage information to the brokerage firm. This loan was never funded.
Safford also admitted to taking money from multiple investors, but failing to use all of the funds to develop the properties.
He has agreed to pay more than $146,000 in restitution to four investors, as well as more than $1.1 million to RS Lending.
Safford is facing two to 30 years in prison, and fines up to $1.25 million in fines.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 23, 2021.