A Niagara Falls mortgage broker in the midst of expanding to the New York City area has agreed to pay a $5,000 fine to the state and refund nearly $15,000 to consumers for making loans on Long Island without regulatory permission.
Daniel W. Vecchies, owner of The Money Place LLC on Buffalo Avenue in Niagara Falls, reached the settlement with the New York Banking Department to avoid a hearing and possible revocation of the firm's license.
The company, which began operating in Niagara Falls in November 1998 and is now in two other states, was accused of operating an unlicensed branch and processing two mortgage applications in Hicksville, L.I. The second office and loans were discovered during a regulatory examination in September 2005.
The problem stemmed from the company's efforts to open several locations in and around New York City, Vecchies said. During the process of applying for a branch license, he said, the office on Long Island originated loans that regulators said should not have been made.
Rather than contest the charges, Vecchies agreed to pay the fine and not operate the second office until it is licensed. He also agreed to refund all proceeds from two affected consumers, with $8,425 paid to the first within 90 days and $6,387.50 paid to the second within 180 days of the Feb. 2 settlement, according to the state Banking Department.
"I guess I stubbed my toe a little bit," he admitted ruefully. "We didn't' realize we were in violation of anything, but I agreed to it."
Vecchies said the company plans to continue its growth efforts, and hopes to open the New York City offices within six months.
Besides its Niagara Falls headquarters and loan office, Money Place also has two office in Rochester and two in Florida, with a sixth office opening in Connecticut. The company, which does about $70 million in annual loan originations, has four employees and 15 commissioned lenders.