A federal judge this morning granted a temporary restraining order in the U.S. Attorney's civil case against Anthony J. DeMarco, who was also charged criminally Tuesday in a mortgage foreclosure rescue scheme involving $31 million in fraudulent loans on 120 properties.

The restraining order shields an unspecified number of properties from sheriffs' sales until at least February. A hearing on a longer-term preliminary injunction was scheduled by U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson for Feb. 2.

An attorney representing Bank of America appeared in court to object to the restraining order with respect to a Riegelsville, Pa., property that is scheduled for sheriff's sale in January. The attorney was overruled.

The restraining applies not just to DeMarco, a heavyset man with full dark-brown beard who was brought into court in handcuffs and wearing a dark green prison jump suit, but also to the companies he used in his alleged scheme. Those companies are DeMarco REI Inc., which is now owned by DeMarco's ex-wife, Biana Tsepenyuk, and OPM Group L.L.C.

Neither DeMarco, nor the two companies, had attorneys at the hearing in Center City.

DeMarco is also scheduled for a detention hearing this afternoon at 3:30, where the judge will decide whether DeMarco should be held until trial or released on bail.