Thomas and Joy Geist have lived in the same house in East Meadow for more than 50 years. Their home is the focal point of their family, the place where children and grandchildren gather for holidays or simply for love. “Grandma is always home, Grandma always has cookies,” the Geists’ daughter, Nancy Hirsch of Elmont, said.
Currently, however, the Geists’ house is a source of family worry. The couple, who paid off their original mortgage 30 years ago, are struggling to make monthly payments on a new $280,000, 30-year mortgage that their lawyer is contending should never have been made to them.
“We’re living a lot more stringently than we used to, but it’s very hard” to make the payments, Thomas Geist, who retired two decades ago from Hazeltine, now part of BAE Systems, said. “I don’t know if we can do it much longer.”
Thomas Geist is 82, and his wife is 80. They are among dozens of individuals, many of them elderly, ill or living on modest incomes, who fear that they face foreclosure on their homes as a result of an alleged Ponzi scheme by a Uniondale-based financial adviser.
As part of that scheme, the adviser, Peter Dawson, persuaded clients to take out mortgages for which there was no rational justification and have the proceeds paid directly to him, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Geists and 38 other people in State Supreme Court in Mineola. The suit says Dawson promised to make the mortgage payments, and to produce profits by investing the money at a higher rate of return than the interest on the loan.
Most of the plaintiffs in the suit live on Long Island or are Long Island natives who live in Florida. The others are from the metropolitan area.