Sunita Buddhu sobbed in the courtroom Friday as she expressed remorse for her role in a debt elimination scheme that left many homeowners facing foreclosure.
"I'm horrified that this is the result of what we did," Buddhu said. "I thought we would be helping people, but it turned into the opposite."
Buddhu, 42, pleaded guilty in October to issuing, selling and presenting fictitious financial instruments. Her father, Deowraj "Deo" Buddhu, is the alleged mastermind of the scheme. Prosecutors say the Buddhus preyed on struggling homeowners and defrauded them out of thousands of dollars by promising access to a supposed secret stash of federal money. Sunita notarized many of her father's documents and invoices. Prosecutors claim there are nearly 200 victims.
Buddhu was in federal court in Hartford Friday for her sentencing. Friends who spoke on her behalf claim Deo is a domineering father and Sunita was only following orders in her role as his assistant.
Sunita's apologies to the victims did not appear to gain her any sympathy with the judge, who announced he would wait to sentence her until after her father's trial later this year.
"I believe the judge is going to find more evidence against her," said victim Janice Barbosa-Illescas, who lost a house and could lose two more properties as a result of her dealings with the Buddhus.
Sunita Buddhu has already served almost seven months in a federal holding cell. Her lawyers were asking for a "time served" sentence.
But victims say they're fine with the delayed sentencing.
"It's a burden lifted to know that she's not just gonna get a minimal sentence," said victim Gwen McKinsey.
The judge said he already has a number in mind for Sunita Buddhu's sentencing and told the courtroom it would be "substantial."