A single mother from Brooklyn wants to know why her complaint about an Essex County businessman was essentially ignored by the New Jersey attorney general’s office, while, years later, complaints by several mortgage lenders and banks about the same businessman sparked an investigation and criminal indictment.
Lisa deLeon invested nearly $60,000 with a company called AAA Investments, based in Orange, N.J., in October 2007. The company had been recommended by a friend, and she met with the company's CEO, Patrick Anderson.
“Because he came through someone I trusted, that set the precedent for how I interacted with him, the eyes through which I saw him," deLeon said.
Anderson told her AAA Investments was a real estate development firm, deLeon said.
“He showed me the documentation that I felt pretty satisfied with,” deLeon said. “The thing that stands out in my mind, all these years later, was the stack of promissory notes that had been filled.”
Convinced Anderson was legitimate and the investment a good risk, deLeon had several checks issued to AAA Investments, along with promissory notes signed by Anderson.
But then her money and Anderson disappeared, said deLeon. He stopped emailing or taking her calls.
Approached at the Essex County Superior Court, Anderson declined to answer any questions.
Suspecting a scam, deLeon filed a complaint with the the Division of Consumer Affairs of the New Jersey attorney general’s office in February 2008.
Soon after, she received a letter from the the division reading, “Because the allegations you made in your letter are not within the Division’s jurisdiction, we are referring this matter to the New Jersey Bureau of Securities.”
The bureau also falls under the umbrella of the AG’s office.
According to Jeff Lamb, spokesman for the Bureau of Securities, the agency launched an investigation based on deLeon’s complaint and contacted police.
Bureau of Securities investigators later determined the agency did not have a legal basis to pursue Anderson, so the case was closed, Lamb said. He confirmed that deLeon was never informed.
And, deLeon said, no police department ever contacted her.
In June 2008 she did receive a letter from the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance explaining that it had no jurisdiction in her case, “even though [AAA Investments] is physically located in the State of New Jersey.”
The letter further recommended that she contact the New York Banking Department.
A week later, a letter from that agency explained, “the subject entity is not under our jurisdiction.”
Tired of what deLeon called “the runaround,” she sued Anderson in February 2009 and won. In April 2010 Anderson was ordered to pay deLeon $79,834.12 – her initial investment plus interest.
She has yet to see any of that money.
Meanwhile, the New Jersey attorney general’s office had launched its own investigation into Patrick Anderson, after several mortgage lenders claimed he had stolen more than $2 million by falsifying home loan applications.
He’s also accused of falsifying U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development settlement forms.
In February 2012, Anderson was indicted by a grand jury and arrested by detectives with the AG’s office. He has pled not guilty.
In its news release about the arrest, Attorney General Jeffrey Chisea is quoted as saying, “In this troubled economy, we are working hard to expose and prosecute those who engage in financial fraud.”
A spokesman for the AG's Division of Criminal Justice, Pete Aseltine, declined the I-Team's request for an on-camera interview, citing the ongoing investigation and prosecution of Anderson.
Aseltine explained that deLeon had, in fact, filed a complaint with the AG’s office, but her specific complaint went to the Consumer Affairs Division and not the Criminal Justice Division.
As such, Aseltine said detectives didn’t drop the ball because they never saw her complaint.
Lisa deLeon disagrees.
“I made contact with the attorney general’s office,” said deLeon. “I think it’s their job to address situations like that. That’s what the Consumer Affairs Board is for, that’s what the attorney general’s office is for and that’s what the New Jersey Securities Bureau is for.”
She continued, “Banks are big business, banks are powerful and people listen to banks because they’re powerful... I’m like the small guy. I’m really low down on the totem pole, so I don’t count.”
She does not expect to see any of her money again.