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Lawyer gets jail time in foreclosure scam


MILWAUKEE (WSAU) A lawyer from suburban Milwaukee has been sentenced to five years in prison, for stealing $542,000 in a fraud scheme. 52-year-old Thomas Bielinski admitted that he lied when he claimed to represent property owners who never tried to recover excess funds from sheriff’s foreclosure sales. Bielinski filed claims with the Clerk-of-Courts’ office on the owners’ behalf – and he kept the money. He did it by stealing identities, forging court information, creating fake companies, and falsifying notarized items.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge J-D Watts also told Bielinski to spend five years under extended supervision when he leaves prison. Watts said he levied the maximum penalty due to the enormity of the fraud. The judge also ruled that the county was the main victim, and those who now wanted to claim the surplus funds were secondary. Over 30 victims were told they would have to file their own claims for restitution, because the county was claiming the same losses. A county lawyer said her office would try to pursue civil judgments against any property Bielinski might have, so the other victims can try to recover what they lost.

The judge will decide next month how much Bielinski will have to pay back. He was charged last August with a single count of theft-by-fraud – and federal marshals had to arrest him at a church service he attended on the day he missed a scheduled court appearance last December.