Three members of a Richmond Hill family have been convicted of defrauding 19 individuals, mostly members of the borough’s West Indies community, out of more than $1.8 million over a nearly six-year period by promising to assist them in obtaining “federally seized” properties in Florida and Queens at cheap prices or to assist them in gaining legal status in this country.
In carrying out their scheme, the family held the father out as an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agent on loan to the FBI or JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force) and as a devoutly religious Pandit.
Shane Ramsundar, 52, his wife, Gomatee Ramsundar, 47, and their daughter, Shantal Ramsundar, 23, all of 120th Street in South Richmond Hill, were convicted of second- and third-degree grand larceny, first- and second-degree money laundering, first-degree criminal impersonation and first-degree scheme to defraud following a nearly three-month jury trial before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth C. Holder. Sentencing is set for January 11, 2012, at which time the Ramsundars face hundreds of years in prison.
According to the trial testimony, the three Ramsundars held Shane out to be a federal agent – complete with a real-looking gun, a badge and false ID card – and a deeply religious Pandit, who could obtain cheap governmentally-seized real estate properties in Florida and the
Ozone Park/Richmond Hill/Jamaica areas of Queens. In particular, the two elder Ramsundars claimed that the government allowed their special agents first option to buy the properties seized from tax evaders and drug dealers cheaply prior to their public auction.
Shane then told his victims that he would purchase properties and obtain mortgages for them with his special government connections and then transfer the deeds over to them and they could live in the residences or re-sell them at great profit. Checks were laundered through 11 different bank accounts – eight belonging to Shantal and three belonging to the family’s race car repair company, Baba Boost Racing, Inc. of Long Island City.
In total, the Ramsundars received more than $1.5 million from 11 victims.
It is further alleged that in carrying out the immigration portion of their scheme, Shane again posed as an ICE/FBI agent and convinced victims that he could use his insider access to get people green cards, have them removed from deportation lists and even get them off “terrorist watch lists” in exchange for sums of money. Gomatee aided her husband by convincing some of the victims that he could obtain the necessary immigration documents and was present when some of the victims turned over their money. Shantal also aided in the scheme by holding her father out as an FBI agent and by cashing checks and laundering substantial amounts of the proceeds through bank accounts in her name. In total, the Ramsundars received more than $300,000 from 12 victims, some of whom were victimized in the defendants’ real estate scheme.
Court-authorized search warrants executed at the family’s residence and storage locker resulted in the recovery of contracts and five realistic looking air guns.
Shane was arrested in September 2009 and has been remanded in lieu of a total of $5 million in bail since that date. Gomatee and Shantal have been remanded in lieu of $2 million and $1 million, respectively, since their Supreme Court arraignment on March 17, 2011.