Appraiser admits role in condo-flipping scheme after six years in Ireland fighting extradition

Patrick Lee, 45, admitted in federal court on Wednesday that he and relatives defrauded lenders of $1.5 million in a mortgage-fraude scheme in 2005 and 2006, involving properties in Dorchester, South Boston and Randolph.

The US Attorney's office in Boston reports that Lee faces up to 30 years in prison at his Feb. 28 sentencing on charges of wire fraud and unlawful monetary transactions.

The US Attorney's office explained the scheme:

"Lee or a relative bought five multi-family buildings in Dorchester and South Boston, financed those purchases with fraudulently obtained mortgage loans, and quickly converted the buildings to condominiums which facilitated the resale of individual units in the buildings to straw buyers.

"The straw buyers were recruited for this purpose and their purchases were financed with fraudulently obtained mortgage loans. The straw buyers were assured that they would not have to put any money down or pay the mortgages, and that they would get a fee at closing and/or a share of the profits when the properties were sold.

"The loans were funded with interstate wire transfers from the mortgage lenders to the closing attorneys’ conveyancing accounts, and the proceeds were then distributed to Lee and/or a family member, the recruiters, and others involved in the scheme. According to the government, mortgage lenders suffered losses of more than $1.5 million."

In Dorchester, the properties included 80 Draper St. and 110 Norton St.

Lee left the Boston area for Newtown, County Kildare in Ireland in 2007. In 2008, the Secret Service filed a sealed criminal complaint against him in Boston federal court. A grand jury indicted him in 2010, although the indictment was not released until 2011, at which point prosecutors began extradition proceedings against him in Ireland. Lee fought back by claiming he was immune from extradition because he had committed some of the alleged offenses while in Ireland and Irish law forbids extradition for crimes committed on Irish soil.

As one court rejected his argument, he appealed, until finally the Irish Supreme Court got the case in 2017. In October, the court rejected his arguments and said he could be extradited to the US.

In the Irish court's ruling, Chief Justice Frank Clarke explained why it had rejected Lee's argument:

"A person who fires a gun across a border killing a victim who is situated in another state is likely to be regarded as having committed the offence of murder in both states. However, there might be a real question as to the state in which it might be said the offence was committed. Is it where the perpetrator fires the gun? On the other hand it might be said that an offence of murder is not complete until the victim is injured such that they die, so that, on that argument, it might be said that the offence was committed where the victim was located. But there could be further complications. What if the offence is one of attempted murder in circumstances where a shot is fired but the intended victim is missed? In such a case the offence of attempted murder would be complete once the shot was fired with intent to kill. Doubtless very many more examples could be given."

At the same time, and in Lee's case, courts could decide that Irish law does not take precedence and so Lee needs to be sent back to the US for prosecution there, given that that is where the alleged offenses took place, Clarke wrote.