The trial of a Sewickley woman facing several federal fraud charges in connection with a local mortgage scheme is now underway.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, jury selection began Monday in the case against Denise Bonfilio, 54, with U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti presiding.
In Feb. 2009 a federal grand jury indicted Bonfilio on eight counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering involving properties in Sewickley and Fox Chapel.
In court documents, prosecutors charge that from June 2005 to April 2008, Bonfilio submitted loan applications to purchase and then refinance seven properties located in Sewickley and one property in Fox Chapel. Those loan documents contained false borrower income and asset information as well as false sales prices for the homes, well above fair market value, according to federal court records.
Prosecutors say Bonfilio and her partners in the alleged scheme used a substantial portion of the funds secured from the mortgages for their personal benefit.
The Sewickley properties listed in the federal indictment against Bonfilio include residences in the 500 block of Chesnut St., the 100 block of Oak Ln., the 100 block of Pine Manor Rd., the 200 block of Spanish Tract, the 100 block of Creek and on Persimmon Rd.
Bonfilio had owned the blighted house at Pine Manor until she defaulted on the $400,000 mortgage and Bank of America foreclosed on the property.
That structure, located off Camp Meeting Road at the entrance of Pine Manor, had been the source of many headaches for the Bell Acres Council.
Council Vice President David Renfrew said the property has been “an eyesore for the borough” for years.
Several years ago, the borough gave Bonfilio time to bring the home up to code. But when that didn’t happen, officials condemned the two-story structure and boarded it up for safety reasons.
In October of last year, Bonfilio’s alleged partner in the scheme, Deborah Kitay, 54, of Leetsdale, was sentenced in federal court to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release for failing to file her income tax returns and wire fraud conspiracy, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Pittsburgh.