Nightmare's twist

Jun 25, 2008 at 12:00 am

News Hits saw a familiar name last week when the Department of Justice and the FBI released a list of people caught up in Operation Malicious Mortgage.

The coordinated crackdown has resulted in 144 federal cases in which more than 400 people around the country have been charged with crimes associated with mortgage fraud since the operation began in March. Among the 60 people arrested last week were some very big fish — specifically Ralph Cioffi and Mathew Tannin, two senior managers of failed Bear Stearns hedge funds. They were charged with conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud in a scandal that resulted in investors losing about $1.4 billion.

What caught our attention, though, was a relative guppy by the name of Dennis Tamburo, who appeared in the pages of this rag last year in our two-part series titled "Nightmare on Highbury Court."

Those stories were about members of the Dreilich family, who lost their Shelby Township home after a decade-long dispute with Macomb County contractor Sal Viviano. At one point, associates of Viviano worked with Tamburo to obtain a loan that allowed them to buy the Dreilichs' home; the Dreilichs claimed in court that the loan application was fraudulent. They also claimed that Tamburo had deceived them, allegedly promising to help them obtain a mortgage that would allow them keep their home only to disappear at a critical point and then surface later as the loan agent for the men trying to get the house. Tamburo denied any wrongdoing.

Last week Tamburo, a 39-year-old resident of Washington Township, was charged with federal felonies for his alleged role in 52 "mortgage fraud schemes" totaling more than $5.3 million. None of the alleged schemes involved the Dreilich home.

In the federal case, Tamburo is accused of working with an associate to "flip" houses, using "straw buyers" and "falsified loan applications" to artificially drive up the prices of homes with mortgages issued by the now defunct NetBank. All the loans fell into default, and most are "in various stages of foreclosure," according to the feds.

Calls to attorneys representing Tamburo were not returned.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]