Pierre Chainey, 42, Tabernacle, New Jersey, was sentenced to 54 months in prison for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme that caused $2.7 million in losses.  Chainey previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of money laundering. Judge Hillman imposed the sentence on July 7, 2017, in Camden federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

In November 2005, Chainey established Universal Lending Solutions LLC, a mortgage brokerage company in Northfield, New Jersey, and served as chief executive office of the company until 2008. He was also a loan officer for the company.

From November 2005 through at least January 2008, he conspired with others to profit from the sale and purchase of properties in New Jersey by obtaining mortgage loans for unqualified borrowers using fraudulent loan applications, HUD-1 Settlement Statements and other documents.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Hillman sentenced Chainey to three years of supervised release; restitution will be determined at a later date.

Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced the sentence and credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher, and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel Jason M. Richardson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Ronald Rodis, 52, Long Beach, California was sentenced to 41 months in prison, and Charles Wayne Farris, 56, Aliso Viejo, California, was sentenced to serve 47 months in prison for their roles in a multi-million dollar fraudulent mortgage modification scheme posing as a successful law firm.  Each of the men previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. In addition to the terms of prison imposed by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, Judge Carter ordered Farris to pay $3,534,927.43 in restitution and ordered Rodis to pay $3,826,947.95 in restitution.

Both defendants previously admitted that, between October 2008 and June 2009, they participated in a scheme to induce homeowners to pay between $3,500 and $5,500 for the services of the Rodis Law Group. These defendants and their co-conspirators made numerous misrepresentations regarding RLG’s ability to negotiate loan modifications from the homeowners’ mortgage lenders. They hid the involvement of Bryan D’Antonio, the true owner of the scheme. D’Antonio was a convicted felon and subject to a permanent injunction prohibiting him from having any involvement with any business that engaged in telemarketing or misrepresented the services it would provide.

These defendants played key roles in a scheme that victimized homeowners facing foreclosure during the mortgage crisis,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The defendants promised homeowners assistance saving their homes and modifying their mortgages, yet took their money knowing the promised benefits would never be realized.”

These two defendants used their legal knowledge and expertise to coerce and victimize vulnerable homeowners,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown of the Central District of California. “Rather than help these individuals as promised, their fraudulent scheme cost the victims millions of dollars.”

Rodis was a licensed California attorney who allowed his name to be used to lend legitimacy to the scheme. He recorded radio advertisements encouraging struggling homeowners to call RLG. In the ads, Rodis falsely claimed that RLG consisted of “a team of experienced attorneys” who were “highly skilled in negotiating lower interest rates and even lowering your principal balance.” In fact, RLG was a telemarketing operation that never had a team of experienced attorneys and rarely achieved any of the promised results for homeowners. During much of the scheme, Rodis was the only attorney at RLG. After his involvement with the RLG scheme, Rodis surrendered his law license.

Farris supervised a sales force of dozens of telemarketers who fielded calls from struggling homeowners. At Farris’s direction and using scripts that he helped create, the telemarketers made numerous misrepresentations regarding the companies’ ability to negotiate loan modifications from the homeowners’ mortgage lenders. For example, the telemarketers stated that RLG and America’s Law Group – a successor to RLG – had been in business for 11 years when in fact the company had only opened in October 2008. They falsely stated that RLG and ALG routinely obtained positive results for homeowners, including lower monthly payments, reductions in principal balance and lower interest rates. In fact, positive results were rarely achieved for any RLG or ALG clients. Telemarketers also falsely reiterated that homeowners would have a team of attorneys and real estate professionals assigned to their case.

On April 10, Bryan D’Antonio, the leader of the scheme, was sentenced to 97 months in prison followed by 12 months in a halfway house and was ordered to pay $3,826,977.95 in restitution.

This case was investigated by the FBI Los Angeles Field Office and prosecuted by Trial Attorney John W. Burke of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph T. McNally of the Central District of California.

Richard Pierce, a Michigan business owner, was sentenced to serve a year and a day in prison for obstructing and impeding the internal revenue laws and committing bank fraud.

According to documents filed with the court, in 2007, Pierce  committed bank fraud by submitting a fraudulent loan application to a mortgage lender on which he failed to disclose that the buyer of a residential property was receiving a kickback from the seller.

Pierce also filed fraudulent 2004 through 2013 individual income tax returns. Those returns failed to report more than $9 million in gross business receipts that several of his real estate businesses earned, including Phoenix Real Estate Company, Phoenix Preferred Properties LLC, Detroit Matrix, First Metro Properties LLC, First Metro Real Estate Services LLC, Phoenix Office Plaza-II LLC, Rosedale/Grandmont Properties LLC, and RFP Ventures LLC. As a result of those fraudulent filings, Pierce caused a tax loss of more than $400,000.

In addition to the term of prison imposed, Pierce was ordered to serve two years of supervised release and to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the amount of which will be determined at a later date. Pierce pleaded guilty in February 2015.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division commended special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Trial Attorneys Mark McDonald and Christopher O’Donnell of the Tax Division, who prosecuted the case. Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan for their substantial assistance.

David Tyrone Johnson, 48, Washington, D.C., was sentenced to a year and a day in prison on federal charges arising from a real estate scheme involving forged mortgage satisfaction documents.

Johnson pled guilty in April 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to charges of bank fraud and making false statements. He was sentenced by the Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson. Following his prison term, Johnson will be placed on two years of supervised release. He also must pay $337,105 in restitution to Fidelity National Title Insurance Company, as well as a forfeiture money judgment of $170,688.

According to a statement of offense submitted at the time of the guilty plea, SunTrust Mortgage, Inc. loaned a friend of Johnson’s approximately $470,000 in 2008 to purchase residential real estate in the 100 block of 57th Street SE. By 2009, the friend had failed to repay the mortgage loans, and in 2010, SunTrust Mortgage filed a notice of foreclosure with the District of Columbia’s Recorder of Deeds. In April 2013, SunTrust Mortgage began the process of foreclosing on the mortgage and taking possession of the property, due to the friend’s failure to make good and timely payments on the mortgage loans.

Sometime before October 2, 2013, Johnson caused the creation of two phony and forged certificates of satisfaction, which falsely represented that the SunTrust Mortgage loans at the property on 57th Street SE had been paid and that his friend owned the property “free and clear.” According to the statement of offense, on October 2, 2013, Johnson filed these two phony certificates of satisfaction with the Recorder of Deeds.

In or about December 2013, after the fake certificates of satisfaction allowed the friend to sell the property without paying the outstanding mortgages, the title and escrow company wired out the sales proceeds of $337,105, of which approximately $170,688 was obtained by Johnson.

In addition, in 2015, Johnson was required to submit a financial disclosure form to his government agency employer; however, on that form, Johnson failed to disclose the money he obtained from the sales proceeds of the property, knowing that he had obtained the money. This failure to inform his government agency employer was material or important to his employer, and one that resulted in a false statement on his financial disclosure form.

In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and Andrew Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office expressed appreciation for the work performed by those who investigated the case and assisted in preparing it for trial from the FBI, including the Washington Field Office and the FBI Laboratory. They also acknowledged the efforts of those working on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Christopher Toms; former Paralegal Specialists Corinne Kleinman and Kaitlyn Krueger; Litigation Tech Specialist Ron Royal, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Swanton, who assisted with forfeiture issues. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Cheatham, who prosecuted the case.

Casey Padula, 48, Port Charlotte, Florida, was sentenced to 57 months in prison for conspiring to commit tax and bank fraud.

According to court records, Padula had a mortgage on his Port Charlotte, Florida home of approximately $1.5 million with Bank of America (BoA).  In 2012, he sent a letter to the bank stating that he could no longer repay his loan.  At the same time, Padula provided Robert Robinson III, 43, who acted as a nominee buyer, with more than $625,000 from his IPPI bank account in Belize to fund a short sale of Padula’s home. Padula and Robinson signed a contract, which falsely represented that the property was sold through an “arms-length transaction,” and agreed that Padula would not be permitted to remain in the property after the sale. Padula in fact never moved from his home and less than two months after the closing, Robinson conveyed it back to Padula by transferring ownership to one of Padula’s Belizean entities for $1. Robinson was also sentenced  to five years of probation for signing a false Form HUD-1 in connection with his role in the scheme.

Padula was also involved in a tax fraud scheme that used secret numbered bank accounts, foreign shell companies and phony deductions to hide millions and evade taxes, according to Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, who announced the sentence.

In addition to the term of prison imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Sherri Polster Chappell, Padula was ordered to serve three years of supervised release and to pay a fine of $100,000 and to pay restitution of $728,609 to the IRS and to BoA in the amount of $739,459.90. He was remanded into custody.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg thanked special agents of IRS CI, who conducted the investigation, and Assistant Chiefs Todd Ellinwood and Caryn Finley of the Tax Division, who prosecuted this case. Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of Florida for its assistance.

Bradford Barneys, 51, Odenton, Maryland, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to 30 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring with Timothy W. Burke in a long-running fraud scheme that targeted distressed homeowners throughout Connecticut. Barneys was an attorney licensed to practice in Connecticut and has an office in Bridgeport.

According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately 2010 and November 2015, Timothy W. Burke, formerly of Easton, engaged in a scheme to defraud individuals, mortgage lenders and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by falsely representing to homeowners who were in, or facing, foreclosure on their homes that he would purchase their homes and pay off their mortgages. The distressed homeowners agreed to sign various documents that Burke presented to them on the understanding that, by signing the documents, they would be able to walk away from their homes without the burdens of their mortgage or other costs associated with home ownership. Burke also told homeowners that the process of negotiating with the lenders can take time and that, in the meantime, to ignore any notices regarding foreclosure. After he gained control of these houses, Burke rented out the properties to tenants by advertising the properties on craigslist.com and other means and falsely representing to tenants that Burke owned the property.

Burke or one of his agents then collected rent from tenants, and Burke used the funds for his own benefit. He also failed to negotiate with the homeowners’ mortgage lender or pay expenses associated with the home, including the homeowner’s mortgages and property taxes, and he failed to pay any rental income he was collecting to the homeowners. Many of the properties Burke purportedly purchased were ultimately foreclosed upon by the mortgage lender.

Burke undertook extensive efforts to disguise his true identity, and hide his criminal past, from his victims through the use of multiple aliases and business entities, and to conceal the sources of and expenditures from his criminal proceeds.

Between approximately 2011 to at least 2014, Barneys participated in dozens of meetings with Burke and with homeowners at Barneys’ law offices in Bridgeport. At the meetings, Burke represented to homeowners that he would purchase their properties and presented to the homeowners quitclaim deeds, management agreements, indemnification agreements, and third party authorizations.

Barneys was paid more than $72,000 in fees and other monies for his participation in the fraud.

At some point after BARNEYS began representing Burke in these meetings with homeowners, BARNEYS knew that Burke had no intention of buying the properties and paying the outstanding mortgages on the properties. Nevertheless, BARNEYS continued to participate in these meetings and represented that these transactions were legitimate. When questioned by homeowners about the status of their sales, BARNEYS would assure them that their sales to Burke or one of his companies were progressing as Burke promised. BARNEYS also knew that, once Burke obtained the properties from the homeowners, he would rent them out to tenants.

BARNEYS also represented Burke and his companies in eviction proceedings against tenants.

The investigation further revealed that BARNEYS engaged in separate fraud scheme similar to the scheme that Burke engineered. BARNEYS assisted two Maryland residents in purchasing a commercial property located on Boston Avenue in Bridgeport. BARNEYS then acted as a purported landlord for the property, executed long-term lease agreements with at least two tenants, and collected tens of thousands of dollars of rent without the actual owners’ knowledge or authorization and kept the funds for his own use.

On February 21, 2017, BARNEYS pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire a fraud.

BARNEYS’ law license was temporarily suspended by state authorities after he pleaded guilty, with additional proceedings scheduled to determine whether further discipline is warranted. Judge Shea ordered BARNEYS not to apply for reinstatement of his law license, and not to engage in any business related to real estate, while he is on supervised release.

On January 24, 2017, Burke pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of tax evasion. On April 28, 2017, he was sentenced to 108 months of imprisonment.

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced the sentence. The matter was investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, with the critical assistance of the Middletown, Plainville, Easton and Coventry Police Departments, the Connecticut State Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David T. Huang and Sarah P. Karwan.

Sammy Araya, 41, Santa Ana, California was sentenced to 20 years, Michael Henderson, 49, Costa Mesa, California was sentenced to 12 years, and Jen Seko, 36, Anaheim, California was sentenced to 7 years in prison, all for their roles in a nationwide, multi-year “home mortgage modification” fraud that scammed thousands of vulnerable victims out of at least $11 million.  All three defendants were convicted by a federal jury on April 21, of multiple counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

For Sammy Araya, Michael Henderson, and Jen Seko, the financial struggles of more than 3,000 homeowners were an opportunity for theft,” said Special Inspector General Christy Goldsmith Romero. “Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) crime is particularly despicable because it targets vulnerable homeowners at risk of foreclosure. The scheme of ringleader Araya and his co-conspirators Henderson and Seko involved mailing to homeowners that faced foreclosure hundreds of thousands of deceptive and misleading mass mailers that touted help with the HAMP program. They took more than $11 million, yet only provided empty promises of admission into HAMP.  Araya bragged about obstructing the criminal investigation and when caught, all showed no remorse or contrition for the crimes they committed and the victims they defrauded. I thank U.S. Attorney Boente and his team for their hard work and commitment in ensuring these defendants got the justice they deserved.”

According to court documents, from at least March 2011 through September 2014, Araya and his co-conspirators targeted struggling homeowners and made a series of misrepresentations to induce them to make payments of thousands of dollars each in exchange for supposed “mortgage modification” assistance. The conspirators lured vulnerable victims into the scam through targeted mass mailers sent to homeowners facing foreclosure through Seko’s company, Seko Direct Marketing. In the mailers and in subsequent phone calls, the defendants and their co-conspirators falsely held themselves out as a non-profit organization or as affiliated with a real government program, the Home Affordable Modification Program, designed to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure. Henderson and other “customer service representatives” in the scam convinced victims to send “reinstatement fees” and “trial mortgage payments” to the conspiracy, based on the false representations that the funds would be used to modify their mortgages. In reality, however, the defendants did nothing to help modify any mortgages. Instead, they used the victims’ payments for their own personal benefit and to further the fraud scheme. Araya, the ringleader of the scam, used the fraud proceeds to purchase expensive vehicles, a racehorse, and a variety of luxury goods, as well as to fund his personal travel and a reality television show he produced called “Make It Rain.TV.”

This scheme had devastating consequences for the victim homeowners, all of whom were already in a precarious financial position. Many victims suffered substantially greater financial hardship after falling victim to this conspiracy than they were already facing when they entered into the bogus agreements with the conspirators. In many cases, the lenders ultimately foreclosed on the victims’ homes, after the victims had been induced to make their “trial mortgage payments” to the members of the conspiracy rather than to their lenders.

Twelve defendants have been convicted in the Eastern District of Virginia in this case and a related case in connection with this same scam. They include the following individuals:

Name, Age  HometownConvictionSentence
Sammy Araya, 41

Santa Ana, California

Convicted on Counts 1-11 of superseding indictment on April 2Sentenced to 20 years
Michael Henderson, 49

Costa Mesa, California

Convicted on Counts 1-6 and 9-11 of superseding indictment on April 21Sentenced to 12 years
Jen Seko, 36

Anaheim, California

Convicted on Counts 1-6 and 9-11 of superseding indictment on April 21Sentenced to 7 years
Roscoe Umali, 38

Santa Ana, California

Pleaded guilty March 22, 2016220 months in prison on Aug. 18, 2016
Joshua Sanchez, 37

Las Vegas, Nevada

Pleaded guilty July 8, 2015151 months in prison on Oct. 29, 2015
Kristen Ayala, 32

Las Vegas, Nevada

Pleaded guilty August 4, 2015135 months in prison on Oct. 29, 2015
Isaac Perez, 33

Los Angeles

Pleaded guilty March 30, 2016130 months in prison on Sept. 1, 2016
Joshua Johnson, 36

Huntington Beach, California

Pleaded guilty March 30, 2016121 months in prison on July 7, 2016
Jefferson Maniscan, 34

Los Angeles

Pleaded guilty March 29, 2016120 months in prison on Aug. 18, 2016
Nicholas Estilow, 34

Mission Viejo, California

Pleaded guilty January 1880 months in prison on June 1, 2017

 

Raymund Dacanay, 47

Newport Beach, California

Pleaded guilty March 29, 201660 months in prison on July 21, 2016
Sabrina Rafo, 24

Garden Grove, California

Pleaded guilty January 1960 months in prison on June 1, 2017

 

 

Anthony J. Atkins, 51, Eufaula, Alabama, was sentenced to 63 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $2.4 million in restitution for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, four counts of false statements to a federally insured financial institution, bank fraud, and mail fraud affecting a financial institution. Atkins was convicted by a jury on March 10, 2017.

In 2007, an individual went to Anthony J. Atkins, the president of GulfSouth Private Bank, and notified Atkins that the individual’s company, which had been loaned $3.4 million, was no longer able to make payments on the mortgage loans issued by GulfSouth Private Bank that had been secured by three condominiums. To conceal that the $3.4 million in loans were going into default, Atkins devised a scheme to conceal the bad debt. 

As a part of the scheme, Atkins and Samuel D. Cobb, who was a vice president at GulfSouth, solicited Bruce A. Houle, Mark W. Shoemaker, Michael Bradley Bowen, and William Blake Cody to take out new loans with the bank to purchase the three condominiums. To persuade Houle, Shoemaker, Bowen, and Cody to engage in the scheme, Atkins and Cobb told these individuals that the loans would be non-recourse, meaning that, if the men defaulted, GulfSouth would have no recourse against them.

Thereafter, Atkins and Cobb caused new mortgage loans and additional lines of credit to be issued for approximately $3.8 million to the men they had solicited. According to the terms of the fraudulent loans issued during the scheme, the men Atkins and Cobb solicited were not required to make any payments on the loans until the loans came due months down the road. These new loans were then used to pay off the old loans that were going into default. Issuing these new loans and new lines of credit created the appearance that the debt was “performing,” which allowed Atkins to avoid having to report the loans associated with the condominiums as bad debt. Further, as a part of the scheme, Atkins and Cobb caused fraudulent security agreements to be prepared that falsely represented that Houle, Shoemaker, Bowen, and Cody were obligated to repay their respective new mortgage loans and lines of credit.<

In September 2009, GulfSouth received $7.5 million in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds from the United States Treasury. Thereafter, Atkins and Cobb allowed the condominiums that were collateral for the mortgage loans to be sold in short sales, resulting in a loss to GulfSouth. Further, Atkins allowed the deficiencies and the lines of credit to be charged off of GulfSouth’s books and records.

The sentence was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. The case resulted from a joint investigation by the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG).

Today, a federal court sentenced to prison a bank president along with the bank’s vice president, who were investigated and arrested by SIGTARP,” said Special Inspector General Christy Goldsmith Romero (SIGTARP). “Taxpayers lost $7.5 million in TARP dollars invested in Gulfsouth Private Bank – a bank that failed after being led by the top two officers committing bank fraud. Bank president Tony Atkins brought in friends and family as co-conspirators in this conspiracy to make troubled loans appear current. Each of those co-conspirators have been convicted. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida for unwavering dedication, including Assistant United States Attorney Tiffany Eggers who was committed to seeking justice.”

This bank fraud case is a reminder that my office will vigorously prosecute those who do not conduct ethical transactions, especially financial representatives who abuse their positions of trust,” said U.S. Attorney Canova. “I commend the hard work of the investigators and prosecutors who enforce our federal laws and ensure that justice is served.”

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of Inspector General is committed to its partnerships with others in the law enforcement community as we address bank fraud cases throughout the country. The American people need to be assured that we are working to ensure integrity in the financial services industries and that those involved in criminal activities that undermine that integrity will be held accountable.” said Jason Moran, Special Agent in Charge, FDIC-OIG.

Assistant United States Attorney Tiffany H. Eggers prosecuted the case.

Rafael Popoteur, 65, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to an information charging him with conspiring to commit bank fraud between 2012 and 2014.  He admitted his role in a scheme to use false information and simultaneous loan applications at multiple banks to fraudulently obtain home equity lines of credit, a practice known as “shotgunning,”

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:

From 2012 through January 2014, Popoteur, Simon Curanaj, and others conspired to fraudulently obtain multiple home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) from banks on a residential property in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. To get the banks to extend lines of credit they would not have otherwise approved, Popoteur, Curanaj, and others transferred ownership of a Ridgefield Park property to Popoteur, who also lived at the property.

Popoteur, Curanaj, and others then applied for three HELOCs from multiple banks using the Ridgefield Park property as collateral. They hid from the lenders the fact that the property was either already subject to senior liens that had not yet been recorded, or that the same property was offered as collateral for a line of credit from another lender. The applications also falsely inflated Popoteur’s income. The equity in the property was far less than the amount of the HELOC loans Popoteur and others applied for.

The victim banks eventually issued loans to Popoteur in excess of $495,000. After the victim banks deposited money into Popoteur’s bank accounts, Popoteur disbursed portions of it to Curanaj and others. In 2014, Popoteur defaulted on all three HELOC loans.

The conspiracy to commit bank fraud count carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 10, 2017.

The charges against Curanaj are still pending and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced the plea and credited special agents of the U.S. Federal Finance Housing Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Steven Perez; and special agents of the FBI, under the direction Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher of the Newark office, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason S. Gould of the U.S. Attorney’s Criminal Division in Newark and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin DiGregory of the FHFA, Office of the Inspector General.

Defense counsel: Jean Barrett Esq., Montclair

Ana Maritza Gomez, 44, Hyattsville, Maryland, was convicted by a federal jury of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and five counts of mail fraud arising from a scheme to defraud victims through a foreclosure rescue fraud scam.

Two co-defendants, Rene De Jesus De Leon, 48, Silver Spring, Maryland, and Pedrina Rodriguez Bonilla, 38, Silver Spring, Maryland, have also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud for their involvement in the same scheme.

According to evidence presented at the six-day trial, from at least late 2011 to August 2015, Gomez and her co-conspirators claimed that they could help homeowners who wanted to modify their mortgage loans and prevent foreclosure of their homes. The conspirators sold the victims on a “principal reduction” program that included an upfront fee, typically between $3,000 and monthly payments for 10 to 15 years. Gomez and her co-conspirators told the victims to make monthly payments to the conspirators and to companies they controlled, in lieu of to the homeowners’ lenders, as part of the conspirators program. The companies controlled by Gomez’s co-conspirators were named Marketing Multiservices LLC and Innovative Solutions Services LLC.

According to the indictment and court documents, the conspirators mailed monthly invoices to the homeowner victims that falsely indicated that the “principal balance” was being paid down. Some of the victims paid Gomez in person each month at her residence; or some of the victims deposited their payments directly into bank accounts controlled by Gomez’s co-conspirators. The conspirators told the victims not to open any mail from their lenders and instead provide it to the conspirators. The conspirators did not, however, negotiate with lenders of behalf of the homeowners. Many of the victims lost their homes.

Sentencing for Ana Maritza Gomez is scheduled for October 12, 2017 , at 10:00 a.m. Sentencing for Rene De Leon is scheduled for September 7, 2017, at 1:00 p.m., and Pedrina Bonilla is scheduled for sentencing on September 7, 2017, at 10:00 a.m.

Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, 3 years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine for each count.

The conviction was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Rene Febles of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG); Special Agent in Charge Cary A. Rubenstein of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG); Chief Henry P. Stawinski of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Postal Inspector in Charge Robert B. Wemyss of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division; and Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department.

Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning commended the FHFA-OIG, HUD-OIG, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County Police Departments, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Schenning thanked Assistant United States Attorney Kristi N. O’Malley and Special Assistant United States Attorney Jolie F. Zimmerman, who are prosecuted the case.