Scott M. Marinelli, age 46, of Annandale, NJ, an attorney whose New Jersey license to practice law is under administrative suspension, was arraigned on Friday before Magisterial District Judge Kristina Anzini on a number of fraud and theft charges stemming from local real estate closings.
Marinelli was arrested by detectives from the Monroe County Office of the District Attorney for theft by deception, theft by unlawful taking, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, receiving stolen property, falsely pretending to hold a professional license, and deceptive business practices for crimes he committed while representing Mountain Lakes Abstract Company, Inc., a business he purchased from original founder Tom Fiers on June 2, 2017. The business is located in Pocono Pines.
Between August 31, 2017 and April 5, 2018, Marinelli, acting as a closing agent for Mountain Lakes Abstract Company, handled a number of real estate property closings. By law, the closing agent is required to be licensed by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. During this period Marinelli was not licensed. At the four closings described in this complaint, Marinelli collected funds which he then failed to distribute to the appropriate agencies.
- On August 31st, 2017 Mr. MARINELLI handled a real estate closing between buyers Fred and Deborah Neibauer’s and sellers Christine M Bennett and Brenda L Hutsebaut on a property located in Pocono Pines. Of the $13,247.18 Mr. MARINELLI collected during the closing, $987.68 was to go to the Monroe County Tax Claim office. Those funds were never forwarded and the Neibauer’s received a delinquent property tax notice. To avoid a property tax sale the Neibauer’s paid an additional $987.68 directly to the tax claim office.
- During a closing held on September 29th, 2017 Mr. MARINELLI collected funds on a real estate transaction between First Northern Bank and Trust Company and Jasmine Homes on a property located in Tunkhannock Township. Of the funds collected $11,316.00 was to be paid to the Monroe County Recorder of Deeds Office for property and transfer taxes. On March 27th, 2018 Mr. MARINELLI sent a check in the amount of $11,316.00 to the Recorders Office. That check was written on an account that had been closed eight years before the check was issued.
- On December 19th, 2017 Mr. MARINELLI collected $35,337.48 from buyers Daniel and Tamara Ann Harrington on a property they were purchasing from the Flying Dutchman’s Ski Club located in Pocono Pines. Of those funds collected $1,011.00 was to be paid to ASI Underwriters for an insurance policy. On January 3rd, 2018 the Harrington’s received a notice that their insurance policy was being cancelled for non-payment. The Harrington’s sent an additional $1,011.00 directly to the underwriters to avoid that cancellation.
- During a closing held on March 16th, 2018 Mr. MARINELLI collected funds on a real estate transaction between Rachel Robles and Chad Sholl on a property located in Allentown PA. On March 27th, 2018 Mr. MARINELLI sent a check to the Lehigh County Recorder of Deeds in the amount of $2,486.50 for the property and transfer taxes. As with the Monroe County Recorder of Deeds payment, the check Mr. MARINELLI wrote to Lehigh County was from an account closed eight years ago.
Initially the investigation involving the Lehigh County Recorder of Deeds was handled by Lehigh County District Attorney Detective Richard Heffelfinger. On April 19, 2018, Lehigh County District Attorney James B. Martin and Monroe County District Attorney E. David Christine, Jr. agreed to have the Lehigh County theft prosecuted along with the Monroe County thefts in Monroe County.
Additional alleged thefts that have occurred in Monroe County and Carbon County are under investigation.
At Friday’s arraignment Marinelli was released on $25,000 unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Kristina Anzini is scheduled for July 23, 2018.
Assistant District Attorney Christy Schlottman is directing the prosecution.
Additional charges are pending on a number of other real estate closings which occurred in Monroe and Carbon County. Anyone who believes they were victimized by Marinelli should contact Chief County Detective Eric J. Kerchner at 570-517-3109 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.