Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Elderly couple busted in $49 million dollar real estate fraud

Mae Rabuffo, 74, who feds say is behind a massive real estate fraud answers the door at her home in Williston Park, Long Island. She had nothing to say about allegations.

She's Mrs. “Money Bags.”

The feds say 74-year-old Long Island granny Mae Rabuffo controlled the purse strings for a $49 million real estate fraud scheme with her ex-husband, a former Genovese mob associate.

Rabuffo is facing the heat in Miami, where she was indicted this month along with ex-husband Domenico Rabuffo, 77, who became a government witness after his business partner was whacked in an infamous New York rubout in 1987.

Federal prosecutors allege the couple bilked at least four major banks — including Bank of America and Wachovia — in a complex mortgage fraud scheme involving property they said they were developing in North Carolina called Hampton Springs.

Neighbors say Mae Rabuffo drives a Mercedes-Benz S550 (pictured), which can cost close to $100,000.

“Domenico Rabuffo’s modus operandi is to keep the proceeds of his fraudulent schemes in the hands of his ex-wife Mae Rabuffo and various shell companies,” federal prosecutors said in court papers.

Frail and hard of hearing, Mae Rabuffo was arrested Jan. 9 by the FBI at her modest home in Williston Park, L.I., just over the Queens border. She was released on $1 million bail. Her ex is still in custody.

“I don’t want to comment, thank you,” she told the Daily News on Tuesday from the doorway of her home, which the feds are seeking to seize.

According to the indictment, the Rabuffos, who have addresses in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., used shell companies to get ownership of a “purported” residential property in North Carolina.

Domenico Rabuffo was also indicted in real estate scheme to defraud banks $49 million.

They and five co-conspirators then allegedly recruited “straw buyers” who used fraudulent documents to take out construction and mortgage loans. The millions were funneled through the shell companies controlled by the Rabuffos, court papers say. The property was never developed.

A land surveyor in North Carolina told the feds that he was paid with checks in the name of Mae Rabuffo and described her as the “money bags behind (Domenico) Rabuffo,” the court papers say.

Mae, whose Facebook profile picture shows a fluffy white dog and whose page is dotted with links to bingo apps, seems to have only one extravagance — the late-model Mercedes-Benz S550 neighbors say she drives.

“Sometimes when it snows, my husband will clear her driveway for her and she will come over with a tray of homemade cookies to thank us,” another neighbor said. “That’s the kind of person we know her to be.”

Bravo Sergio, an Upper East Side restaurant, was where mobster Irwin Schiff was infamously gunned down in 1987. Domenico Rabuffo was a business partner of Schiff.

Defense lawyer Joseph Corozzo said the feds have it all wrong.

“We will prove her ex-husband used her as a nominee and that Miss Rabuffo had neither intent to defraud or knowledge that anyone was being defrauded,” Corozzo said. “She’s as much a victim as anyone in the indictment.”

Domenico Rabuffo made headlines in 1987 when his 400-pound business partner Irwin Schiff was whacked inside the Bravo Sergio restaurant on the Upper East Side.

Authorities discovered that Schiff and Rabuffo had ties to the Mafia and had carried out frauds together. Fearing that he was next on the hit list, Rabuffo ran to the feds for protection.

Later, he reinvented himself as a real estate mogul in Florida, but apparently did not go straight.

The Rabuffos and the co-defendants face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.


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