WASHINGTON — A former housing counselor from New York has been sentenced to six years in prison for defrauding homeowners who sought her help in obtaining a mortgage modification, authorities said.
Lori J. Macakanja, 35, of Dunkirk, New York, received the sentence Thursday after being convicted of mail fraud and theft of government money.
Macakanja is a former housing counselor for HomeFront, Inc., in Buffalo, who inappropriately asked clients for money to help them obtain loan modifications, and then put that money to her own personal use, federal authorities stated in a press release.
Authorities said that Macakanja defrauded approximately $300,000 from 136 clients, using some of the money for gambling. She also diverted $2,000 in federal grant money from the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency to pay her own mortgage.
"The victims turned to the defendant for help in keeping their home. Instead, the defendant abused their trust and stole their money," U.S. Attorney for the western district of New York William J. Hochul, Jr., said in a press release. "Unfortunately, because of the defendant's actions, some of the victims lost their homes."
Macakanja's sentence includes three years of supervised release and an order to pay $298,639 in restitution to the victims.