Former North Castle Republican Chairwoman Loronda Murphy could serve as much as 13 1/2 years in prison following the completion of sentencing Tuesday morning in her mortgage fraud case.
Westchester County Court Judge Barbara Zambelli levied an “indeterminate” sentence of at least four and a half years in jail and issued orders of protection and restitution. The amount of time served will depend on several factors, including how much of the $720,288 that she stole is repaid to her five victims.
Murphy, 48, pled guilty last September to first- and second-degree mortgage fraud, the top two counts in her 19-count indictment. She operated the Armonk-based mortgage closing company Settle One Corp. that allowed homeowners to refinance their houses. She stole portions of the new loan money rather than paying off the pre-existing mortgages.
On Tuesday, defense attorney Paul Pickelle asked Zambelli to postpone sentencing while Murphy and her family continue to make arrangements to sell properties so she would have enough money to comply with the restitution order. Among the assets the family has considered unloading was a house owned by her father in North White Plains that would bring in about $400,000, a Harrison property owned by her husband and two houses that her mother owns upstate, Pickelle said.
Murphy, who was ushered into the courtroom handcuffed and wearing slacks and a dark jacket for the five-minute appearance, apologized to her victims, including her elderly father. She explained that there had been a delay in the sale of family property to comply with the order of restitution because her previous two attorneys never discussed the subject with her.
Murphy said her request to have the sentencing put off wasn’t a last-ditch effort to stay out of state prison.
“This will be the first step in repairing the damage to my family,” Murphy said.
Murphy had been in the Westchester County Jail since March 5 when she was ordered held at her last court appearance. She had been out on bail since she was charged in September 2011.
An impatient Zambelli said that Murphy’s conduct since her guilty plea gave her no choice but to send her to state prison. She cited Murphy’s attempt to rescind her plea, her sudden change of attorneys for a second time and failure to repay her victims as intentional delay tactics. The judge described Murphy as “just not believable.”
“You failed for over five months since your guilty plea to arrange for the sale of property and have not paid one cent of restitution,” Zambelli said.
Following the judge’s state, Murphy was once again handcuffed and led away by court officers.
Her accomplice, former New Rochelle real estate attorney Scott Forcino, was sentenced on Jan. 8 to three years probation. Originally, Murphy was supposed to be sentenced on that date until she told the court that she was without an attorney and hoped to change her plea.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/