A federal trial jury in Massachusetts on Friday convicted a Springfield, Mass., police officer and another Springfield man of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in connection with a real estate fraud scheme.

Michael J. Hutchison, 35, and Chester J. Ardolino, 37, each face up to five years in prison a fine of $250,000 for the conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud charges, and a fine of $500,000 for the money-laundering charges, according to a U.S. Attorney’s office statement.

During the trial, the government presented evidence that Hutchison and Ardolino engaged in fraud and money laundering when they purchased property located at 11-15 Belmont Place in Springfield on June 17, 1999.

According to evidence presented at trial, in April 1999, Hutchison and Ardolino’s brother, Anthony Ardolino, who was Chief of Staff to Mayor Michael Albano at the time, met with Elliott Beals in Anthony Ardolino’s office at City Hall. Beals and a colleague, who were the sellers of the property, explained to Hutchison and Anthony Ardolino how they could purchase the property fraudulently and Beals and his colleague agreed to give back all of their profit from the sale in the hopes of currying favor with Anthony Ardolino. Hutchison then recruited his sister in April 1999 to apply for a loan and to serve as a straw purchaser for the property.

About two months later, the defendants reportedly used fictitious documents that falsely inflated the monthly income of Hutchison’s sister to help her qualify for a $70,500 loan. In addition to the false employment documents, the defendants reportedly helped her submit false documents relating to a $4,150 down payment that was never made.

At trial, the government presented additional evidence that Hutchison, Chester Ardolino, and Anthony Ardolino received a check for $18,341 as their profit from the purchase of this property even though they were the buyers of 11-15 Belmont Place. Hutchison and Ardolino then allegedly cashed this check in the name of H & A Realty and took back $17,000 in cash from this transaction.

Sentencing for Hutchison is scheduled for March 17, 2005. Sentencing for Ardolino is slated for March 24, 2005.

The case resulted from an investigation by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, the FBI and the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Springfield. Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Welch, II is prosecuting the case.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to jessica@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 133.

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