A New York man has admitted to forging bank documents for a $1.3 million loan to buy a Central New York castle estate.
WKTV reports Jason Safford, 45, of Queens, pleaded guilty to bank fraud, attempted wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a mortgage refinance loan for Gelston Castle Estate in Mohawk. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Safford illegally obtained the loan on behalf of his company, Safflyn Green Industries, which operates Gelston Estates.
According to the Times Telegram, a nearly two-year investigation by the FBI determined Safford used fake bank statements and deposit documents, as well as a false appraisal for the property, to get a $1.3 million from RS Lending in 2016. Safford also used forged documents in 2018 for a $2 million loan application on 980 Robinson Road, a property next to Gelston Estates; appraisal documents valued the Gelston property at $325,000 but he altered the document to claim it was appraised at $2.4 million.
WKTV reports Safford agreed to pay more than $146,000 in restitution to four investors and more than $1.1 million to RS Lending.
Safford faces two to 30 years in prison and up to $1.25 million in fines. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 23.
According to the Telegram, Gelston Castle Estates is named for the “castle” built in the 1830s by Harriet Douglas Cruger, inspired by Gelston Castle owned by her uncle in Scotland. The limestone building has since collapsed while the estate has been used for various outdoor concert festivals, like moe.down, and historical reenactments.