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Jurors to mull $13 million mortgage fraud case

Lynne Tuohy, Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- A federal judge has thrown out all but one of the charges against a Manchester, N.H. businessman accused of defrauding lenders of $13 million by using fraudulent loan applications to refinance homes on the brink of foreclosure.

The judge said the nine money laundering Michael Prieto had faced are part of the broader mail fraud scheme alleged by prosecutors.

In final arguments Thursday, prosecutors said the first step in Prieto's scheme was to mail solicitations to homeowners facing foreclosure, offering to bail them out.

Once property owners turned deeds over to him, prosecutor Michael Gunnison said, he refinanced the homes to strip them of their equity and pocketed thousands of dollars.

His lawyer told jurors Prieto is not a swindler or a thief, just a bad businessman.