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Bank, staff indicted in mortgage scheme

NEW YORK (AP) -- A community bank and 19 ex-employees have been criminally charged with issuing hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent mortgages that ended up in unwitting investors' portfolios, prosecutors said Thursday in announcing a rare indictment of a bank in the mortgage meltdown that rocked the U.S. economy.

Abacus Federal Savings Bank was hit with mortgage fraud, grand larceny and other charges in what Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. called "a systematic scheme to falsify and fabricate mortgage applications" so that unqualified borrowers could get loans. The loans later were sold to mortgage giant Fannie Mae, which repackaged them into securities for investors.

Abacus, a Chinatown-based bank with mainly immigrant customers and branches in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, said it had investigated and reported the problems and would vigorously defend itself.

Vance said most of the mortgages in this case were being paid on schedule.

At Abacus, managers created an environment of doctoring mortgage applications to match Fannie Mae criteria, prosecutors said.

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Judge OKs settlement between Madoff, Mets

NEW YORK -- A federal judge on Thursday approved the settlement of a lawsuit brought by a trustee for Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff's victims against the owners of the New York Mets.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan approved the deal after asking at a settlement hearing whether anyone objected and getting no response. He noted there were no written complaints filed after the deal was announced in March just before jury selection for a civil trial was to begin. He said the deal "appears to be a fair settlement."

The settlement calls for the Mets' owners to pay up to $162 million but nothing for four years. The deal was structured so the owners will likely pay much less than the maximum depending on what happens to their claims against Madoff's estate.

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RealtyUSA to gain Pennsylvania office

Real estate brokerage RealtyUSA said Thursday that it will gain its first Pennsylvania office after a small Southern Tier firm merges its three locations into RealtyUSA's local operations.

Gold Post Realty Ltd., which operates offices in Endwell and Ithaca, and in Montrose, Pa., under the banners Coldwell Banker George T. Decker Real Estate and Coldwell Banker Shaw Real Estate, has agreed to combine its offices with RealtyUSA as of June 1.

The deal, whose terms were not disclosed, will add about 40 agents, and adds to the firm's presence in the Binghamton, Ithaca and Montrose markets, said President and CEO Merle Whitehead.

Orchard Park-based RealtyUSA is the largest independent real estate company in New York, with over 55 offices and about 2,500 agents and employees across the state. It was recently ranked by Real Trends as the fifth-largest independent residential brokerage firm in the nation, and the eighth-largest among all brokerage firms, handling 18,009 "sides" of transactions in 2011, down 1.2 percent from 2010.

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Graham to supply Chinese plants

Graham Corp. has won a pair of orders worth a total of $5 million to supply equipment for energy facilities in China, including its first contract for systems to be used at a Chinese nuclear power plant, the Batavia-based company said Thursday.

The nuclear power plant equipment involves ejector systems that will be built at Graham's Batavia factory for installation at four new nuclear energy facilities currently under construction in China.

The second order is for an ejector system that will be installed in an existing Chinese oil refinery as part of a project to nearly double its capacity.

Both orders are scheduled to be delivered by the end of March.