Despite her friends painting a glowing picture of her, former mayoral candidate Genevieve Salvatore was sentenced to two years in jail Tuesday for her part in a mortgage fraud scheme.
Last February, Salvatore pleaded guilty to mail fraud in connection with a mortgage scheme that prosecutors said took place between 2006 and 2008. Salvatore was among several defendants indicted in connection with what prosecutors said was “an extensive mortgage fraud scheme involving more than 50 mortgages on numerous residential properties in New Haven.”
Salvatore and the others were charged with hiding from mortgage lenders the true sales price of the houses through the use of two federal housing forms, only one of which was sent to the lender, and secret contract additions.
As sentencing approached, friends wrote letters to Chief U.S. District Judge Janet Hall asking for leniency for Salvatore, while prosecutors fought for a “substantial” sentence.
Friends wrote that Salvatore is a generous woman who, through her law firm, has helped people who cannot afford legal services, and that she has done a lot to raise awareness of food allergies, from which her 10-year-old son suffers.
“When Gen hears that someone has a problem, her first instinct is to help,” wrote her friend Alison Soto. “Gen has repeatedly hired moms that we know from our cheer and football league to help with phones and filing when they were between jobs.”
Soto sometimes worried about the number of clients Salvatore took on at a reduced rate.
“Gen insists that we have an obligation to help people if we are able,” Soto wrote.
Suzanne Cahill of Milford met Salvatore in 2009 when she was the Democratic candidate for mayor in Milford. Cahill wrote, “Over the years I have witnessed her selflessly assist individuals navigate personal challenge with compassion and care.”
Salvatore’s attorney argued that the court should be lenient because of Salvatore’s character, and because she needs to care for her 10-year-old son, “who suffers from anaphylactic reactions to food allergies.”
The attorney also pointed out that her financial gain in the mortgage transactions was $19,243.54, and that she has paid that money back.
“Genevieve Salvatore’s entire identity is a reflection of the two things in her life to which she is most dedicated; her 10-year-old son and the practice of law,” Bowman wrote.
“If Genevieve Salvatore is imprisoned, there will be no ability to keep her son in the private school he attends, which is an allergen free environment,” Bowman added.
U.S. Court officials had a different view of Salvatore, which they presented in their pre-sentencing documents. They asked for a sentence of more than two years.
Paul Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, noted that Salvatore pleaded guilty to mail fraud, that she was a closing attorney in 13 fraudulent real estate transactions, and that losses to the lenders totaled approximately $2.5 million.
He argued that Salvatore’s conduct was “serious” because it broke the public trust.
“Beyond the sheer numbers on loss and number of transactions, however, Salvatore’s conduct was, at its core, deceitful and dishonest,” he wrote in a sentencing memorandum, adding, “A significant amount of prison time should be imposed in these types of cases to demonstrate that white collar defendants, such as Salvatore, are punished with something more than a proverbial slap on the wrist and an order not to do it again.”
On Tuesday, Salvatore was sentenced to 24 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. There is no fine, but she forfeits $19,245.54 and faces a future restitution hearing, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey.
Salvatore grabbed attention in 2009 when she ran as virtually an unknown against incumbent Mayor James Richetelli Jr. and two other mayoral candidates, Tim Chaucer and Peter Spalthoff. A Democrat, she lost to Richetelli, a Republican who had held the seat many years.
One local politician at the time described Salvatore as a strong businesswoman with a keen intellect.
She also served on the city’s economic development commission and has been involved in efforts to boost downtown business. In recent years, she has also spearheaded events and initiatives aimed at raising awareness about food allergies.
The Connecticut Post reported that Salvatore may serve her time in Danbury.
According to an online source, FCI, Danbury Prison is a low-security federal facility that originally opened in 1940 to house both male and female inmates.
As of March 2014, the prison is a female only prison, but the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced plans in 2013 to begin housing men at the prison again beginning some time this year.
An adjacent prison camp will continue to house women. According to the bureau website, there are currently 309 prisoners housed at the combined Danbury prison and camp.
Salvatore will remain out on bail until July 11, after which she must begin her sentence.
Assistant Editor Ralph Petitti contributed to this article.