Alleged Tamworth scamster due back in court
February 18, 2010
OSSIPEE — A Tamworth man accused of targeting deaf people with mortgage scams is due back in Southern Carroll County District Court this morning (Thursday, Feb. 18) for probable cause hearings on four felony charges and a trial for two misdemeanor charges.
Eric W. Eliason, a.k.a. Ricky Masci, 30, of Tamworth, is charged with crimes that occurred in connection with his internet based business, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Mortgage Consultants, which he ran out of his home on Page Hill Road. Assistant Attorney General Karen Gorham is prosecuting the case.
At his arraignment last week, Southern Carroll County District Court Judge Robert C. Varney scheduled Eliason's probable cause hearing for 10:30 a.m. Varney set Eliason's bail at $10,000 cash or corporate surety. If released, Eliason must live with his parents in Barnstead and comply with conditions set by the county's pretrial release program among other conditions, the judge ordered.
Eliason pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanors. Defendants don't enter a plea on felony level charges in district court, as that will be done when the case gets bound over to superior court. Eliason is also hard of hearing. His attorney had to restate what the judge and prosecutor were saying during the arraignment. He will likely have an interpreter at today's court date.
The most serious charge, theft by deception, a Class-A felony, alleges Eliason conned an Illinois couple into giving him $3,500 for the purpose of performing a loan modification but he never attempted to do so. A Class A Felony with an extended term of imprisonment carries a maximum penalty of 10 to 30 years in state prison and a $4,000 fine. Court papers say the crime occurred between July 13 and July 17 of 2009.
The state alleges Eliason committed these other crimes against the same couple from July to December: Fraudulent business practice, a Class B felony, for claiming to be negotiating the modification of the victims' mortgage loans and untrue statement, a Class B felony, for telling the victims their chances for a loan modification "looked good."
"The Zapadinskys were about to lose their home," said Gorham at the arraignment. "They relied on his representation that he could save their home."
A second charge of untrue statement alleges Eliason accepted an upfront application fee of an unspecified amount from another couple and then later drafted an e-mail stating they hadn't paid him a fee but they did make a payment to an appraisal company. This crime allegedly occurred in October.
Misdemeanor charges against Eliason state he failed to possess a mortgage originator's license in May and failed to possess a debt adjustment license in July.
Gorham wanted Varney to keep his bail at $10,000 cash because she considers him a danger to the community and a flight risk. She noted he was a danger because his alleged scam involved a Web site, which would allow him to keep making contacts.
She described him as a flight risk because he was preparing to set up his business in California. She noted Eliason had gone to California for 10 days before his arrest and signed a lease for office space. Further, he had fallen behind in the rent in Tamworth.
"We feel he's a flight risk and he's ready to go," she said.
But Public defender John Bresaw said his client was planning to move, but that was before he got arrested. Bresaw attempted to have Eliason's bail reduced to $1,000 cash or personal recognizance stating his client had strong ties to New Hampshire and is only being accused of nonviolent crimes.
But Gorham added Eliason's criminal record includes convictions for simple assault, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.
These criminal charges are a result of a joint investigation conducted by the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office, the New Hampshire Banking Department, Carroll County Sheriff's Office and the DeKalb County, Illinois Sheriff's Department.