Lurlyn A. Winchester, 58, New City, New York, a Justice for the Town Court of Monroe, was charged with making false statements in connection with an application for a loan to purchase a residence in Monroe, New York, which satisfied the residency requirement of her position as Town Justice. She was also charged with obstruction of justice for providing law enforcement officers, who questioned her about her mortgage loan, with false documents, including fabricated rent payment receipts. Winchester was arrested at her home in New City, New York, and was presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith in White Plains federal court.

According to the allegations contained in the Complaint:

In or about 1997, Winchester  and her husband purchased a home in New City, New York (the “New City Home”), which they continue to own. On or about October 6, 2013, Winchester, an attorney practicing in New City, was nominated to be the democratic candidate for Town of Monroe Justice. At that time, she provided an address in Monroe, New York (“Monroe Residence-1”), as her residence, and on or about October 7, 2013, she registered to vote in Monroe, New York. Winchester was then elected Town of Monroe Justice on or about November 5, 2013.

On or about October 14, 2014, Hudson United Mortgage, LLC (“Hudson United”), a mortgage broker located in New City, New York, received a letter from Winchesterindicating that she had been elected Town Justice for the Town of Monroe and that she was relocating to Monroe in order to comply with a residency requirement attached to that position. In or about December 2014, the defendant and her husband submitted an application for a residential loan to Hudson United, and indicated that the loan was to be used to purchase a condominium located in Monroe, New York (“Monroe Residence-2”). On both the loan application and a disclosure notice, signed by the defendant and her husband, they asserted that Monroe Residence-2 would be their primary residence.

Winchester also represented to Hudson United that she and her husband were going to rent out their New City Home to a tenant. Specifically, on or about February 6, 2015, Hudson United received a letter from the defendant in which she identified the New City Home as her “current primary residence” and she stated that she and her husband intended to rent the New City Home and they “already had a prospective tenant” who was “anxiously awaiting to take occupancy of the residence.”

In or about March 2015, Winchester learned that the ultimate loan issuer, Plaza Home Mortgage Inc. (“Plaza”), was going to decline to issue the loan due to insufficient income. In response, Winchester again represented that she and her husband were going to rent out the New City Home and indicated they would have rental income of $4,500 a month. Plaza requested copies of a fully executed 12-month lease and a canceled check for a security deposit. Winchester provided a copy of a lease agreement, signed by the defendant, her husband, and a tenant (the “Tenant”). She also submitted a copy of two $4,500 checks for the security deposit and one month’s rent, made out to the defendant, and drawn on the Tenant’s bank account, as well as other documents reflecting that the checks were deposited into Winchester’s bank account. In or about April 2015, Plaza issued the loan.

Contrary to the defendant’s representations, Winchester did not intend to and did not lease the New City Home to Tenant in 2015; instead she fabricated a 2015 lease and caused checks to be issued and deposited to make it falsely appear that Tenant had paid rent and a security deposit. Tenant did not sign a lease in March 2015, never moved in to the New City Home, and Winchester provided the $9,000 that covered the two $4,500 checks purportedly provided by Tenant.

Further, Monroe Residence-2 was not intended to be, and has not been, the primary residence of the defendant and her husband. Interviews with neighbors, cellphone records, and credit card records indicate that Winchester did not move to Monroe. Finally, in a statement to agents, Winchester admitted that: she resided at the New City Home, she had informed Hudson United that she would be renting the New City Home, she submitted rental checks and other documents relating to renting the New City Home, and the Tenant never moved into the New City Home.

With respect to the obstruction charge, during an interview with members of the FBI Task Force relating to Winchester’s statements and submissions in connection with her loan, she provided them with, among other things, purported receipts for rent payments she claimed to have received from the Tenant for rent of the New City Home. The Tenant, however, indicated that he did not know anything about the receipts and never gave Winchester the cash payments supposedly memorialized in them.

Winchester was charged with one count of making false statements to a mortgage lending business, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, as well as falsifying records in a federal investigation, with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of a federal department or agency, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the Complaint.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “As alleged, Lurlyn Winchester, a municipal court judge for the Town of Monroe, lied and provided fake documents to secure a mortgage on a Monroe condominium in an attempt to falsely satisfy the judicial residency requirement. We should expect and demand integrity in our government. This Office is committed to pursuing corruption in all forms and in all three branches of government, including the judiciary. I thank our partners at the FBI for their work in exposing this fraud and holding accountable our public officials.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. stated: “As alleged, Lurlyn Winchester falsely represented her primary residence in order to fulfill requirements for her position as justice for the Town of Monroe. Winchester, who claimed she had relocated her primary residence from New City to Monroe, allegedly remained in her New City home, despite representations to the contrary. She allegedly provided false information to her mortgage company, claiming her New City property was being rented to a prospective tenant, and later lied to federal agents who interviewed her about her claims. If anyone should have respect for the rule of law, it should most certainly be those entrusted to uphold it. Many thanks to our partners in this investigation as we continue to reinforce our commitment to uncover illegal activity on behalf of public officials at every level.”

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI. He also thanked the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Margery B. Feinzig is in charge of the prosecution.

Oscar Cantalicio Ortiz, 53, a contractor who had resided in Kingwood, Texas, prior to becoming a fugitive in this case, was sentenced in absentia to 262 months in prison for his role in a $16 million loan fraud scheme.  Ortiz pleaded guilty June 30, 2016, to conspiring to commit bank, mail and wire fraud. He was set for set for sentencing April 24, 2017, but failed to appear for that hearing.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt further ordered Ortiz to pay $5,462,800 in restitution. At the hearing, the court heard testimony that Ortiz was aware of the previous hearing and that he had cut off his ankle monitor and left it on the side of the road.

He is considered a fugitive and a warrant remains outstanding for his arrest. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact the FBI at 713-693-5000.

Seung Min Santillan, aka Suzy, 57, real estate agent, Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements on a loan application in September 2016. She was previously sentenced to 168 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $5,299,500 in restitution.

Ortiz and Santillan operated a mortgage fraud scheme in which they recruited straw borrowers to purchase residential properties in the Houston, Texas, area. Loans were obtained from lending institutions to purchase these properties in the names and using the credit of the straw borrowers. The lenders were provided materially false information to induce them to fund these residential loans, including fraudulent appraisal reports. The loans were funded and ultimately fell into default when all the mortgage payments were not made as promised.

Ortiz and Santillan utilized several business entities during the execution of the scheme to defraud including Uptown Builders LLC, Americorp Builders LLC, Luxury Quality Homes LLC and Santi Investments. In recruiting straw borrowers during the scheme, the borrowers were told the residential property would be in their name for a short period while Ortiz made modifications to the property prior to reselling the house. Ortiz and Santillan promised the straw borrowers that they would handle all the costs associated with purchasing and holding these properties.

Once the loans to purchase the residence funded, one or more of the business entities Ortiz utilized would receive a large portion of the loan proceeds. This occurred even when the same property was purchased for the second time in the name of a new straw borrower. The defendants were able to take a large portion of the loan proceeds since the value of the residence was inflated with fraudulent appraisal reports.

The sentenced was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Annis is prosecuting the case.

Mark F. Speakman, 60, Grove City, Ohio, was sentenced to 60 months in prison for an investment fraud scheme that defrauded his clients out of more than $1.1 million.

According to court documents, between 2000 and 2015, Speakman was a financial advisor at Ameriprise Financial, and between 2002 and 2015 he defrauded his clients by misappropriating their funds.

Speakman persuaded his clients to remove their funds from their Ameriprise Financial accounts and invest them in Centrax, a fraudulent real estate investment trust. Rather than investing the funds in real estate, he stole the money. He took $870,000 from seven victims for the real estate scheme and used the money to pay his own expenses.

For example, Speakman persuaded one victim to move $125,000 outside of her normal Ameriprise account and invest instead in Centrax. He did not invest the funds in Centrax, but instead used them for his personal benefit. The victim later developed terminal cancer, and she detailed her physical decline in emails to Speakman and instructed him to write checks to an estate-planning attorney and to a “local crematorium and burial society” where she was pre-purchasing cremation services.

The dying victim told Speakman she counted on the Centrax trust to avoid placing a burden on her family members when she died and intended to use her Centrax investment in order to pay off the mortgage on her home.

Because the Centrax trust did not in fact exist, Speakman convinced the victim not to liquidate her purported Centrax investment and upon her death tried to convince the victim’s family to do the same. When he could no longer postpone their wishes to liquidate, he avoided communication with the family altogether.

As part of his scheme to defraud, Speakman stole from others to avoid detection by a client he had previously defrauded. In 2014, one of his clients who had previously agreed to invest in Centrax told Speakman that he wanted to cash out his investment. Speakman had already misappropriated those funds and had no way to pack back his client.

As a result, Speakman convinced another client and three of his family members to invest in gold coins. Speakman did not invest in gold coins and instead diverted the money in order to pay back the previous victim.

In total, Speakman received nearly $1.2 million from others in furtherance of his fraudulent scheme.

In addition, Speakman filed a false federal income tax return with the IRS for the 2014 income tax year on which he omitted $275,000 in income generated by his illegal conduct. The total tax loss to the IRS for 2002 through 2014 was approximately $300,000.

Speakman pleaded guilty in December 2016 to one count each of wire fraud, money laundering and filing a false federal income tax return with the IRS. As part of his plea, he agreed to pay nearly $1.2 million in restitution to the victims of his investment fraud scheme and approximately $300,000 in restitution to the IRS.

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Frank S. Turner II, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office, and Grove City Police Chief Jeff Pearson announced the sentence handed down today by Senior U.S. District Judge James L. Graham.

Mark Speakman committed a serious fraud that lasted more than a decade,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “He used his position as a financial advisor to take advantage of clients. Appallingly, he even lied about the final financial wishes of a client who was dying of cancer. The sentence he received today reflects the seriousness of his illegal actions.”

When you knowingly mix deceit and trickery into the financial well-being of individuals, you create a recipe for devastation that could last a lifetime,” said Frank S. Turner II, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “Today’s sentencing demonstrates how the IRS, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Grove City Police Department banded together to help put an end to the criminal behavior of Mr. Speakman who preyed on investors for his own personal financial gain.”

U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the IRS and the Grove City Police Department, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter K. Glenn-Applegate, who is prosecuting the case.

Luis Antonio Rodriguez, 36, Mission, Texas, and Rogelio Ramos Jr., 36, Pharr, Texas were convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for their roles in a “second chance” mortgage lending scheme.  The convictions followed a seven-day-trial and approximately nine hours of deliberation by the jury.

Guadalupe Artemio Gomez, 31, Mission, Texas, pleaded guilty before trial and testified against both Rodriguez and Ramos.

All three were accused of operating a “second chance” financing business under the names of T.G. and Wealth, Infinite Properties and Me In 3D, focusing on individuals who were financially unable to apply for traditional home financing. The investigation revealed Gomez, Rodriguez and Ramos conducted business in McAllen, Mission, Edinburg, Houston and San Antonio, Texas, by hiring recruiters to funnel prospective home buyers to Infinite Properties. The homebuyers then gave 10 percent of the purchase price as a down payment to Infinite Properties.

During trial, the jury heard from victims, law enforcement and an FBI forensic accountant who testified that instead of using the down payments as intended, the money was used for personal expenses, trips to Las Vegas and to purchase other real estate.

The defense claimed they had no intent to defraud the victims because they had attempted to get a $10 million loan. The jury was not convinced and found both men guilty as charged.

Rodriguez and Ramos defrauded 106 people out of more than $1.8 million in down payments.

Anyone who believes they may be a victim of fraud in relation to this investigation or any other similar crime may contact the FBI at 210-225-6741.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane presided over the trial and set Rodriguez and Ramos for sentencing on Aug. 8, 2017. Gomez will be sentenced July 25, 2017. All face up face up to up to 30 years in federal prison and a possible $1 million fine.

The convictions were announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.

The FBI and police departments in McAllen, Mission and Edinburg conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert L. Guerra Jr. and Andrew Swartz prosecuted the case.

Kevin Frank Rasher, 45, Coto de Caza, California, plead guilty to 12 counts of mail fraud relating to his operation of a fraud scheme that took $2.2 million from distressed homeowners through false promises that he could help them avoid foreclosure by obtaining modifications to their mortgages. Rasher has been in custody since his arrest one year ago.

In a plea agreement filed in federal court, Rasher admitted that, between 2011 and March 2016, he falsely told distressed homeowners that he was an employee of HUD and/or an attorney, and that the homeowners had been approved for a reduced mortgage payment or interest rate. Rasher then instructed the homeowners to mail their mortgage payments to one of his businesses, claiming that he would forward the money to the homeowners’ mortgage lenders. Instead of forwarding the money to the mortgage lenders, Rasher deposited the money into his bank accounts and used it for his own personal expenses.

Rasher admitted that he fraudulently obtained approximately $2.24 million from more than 500 victims.

Rasher pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton, who is scheduled to sentence the defendant on September 29. Rasher faces a statutory maximum sentence of 240 years in federal prison.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General; the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); the United States Postal Inspection Service; the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of the Inspector General; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The case against Rasher is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Rosalind Wang and Robert J. Keenan of the Santa Ana Branch Office.

Ignacio Beato, 46, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, pled guilty before United States District Judge James M. Munley to conspiracy to engage in monetary transactions through a financial institution, with funds that were the proceeds of wire fraud. Beato is scheduled to be sentenced on August 31, 2017.

Beato, who was a licensed real estate agent, falsely represented to potential purchasers that he was authorized to sell vacant conventional and Federal Housing Administration insured mortgaged properties in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, when in fact, he did not have such authority. Between December 2013 and March 2015, Beato accepted $751,082 from individuals who believed they were purchasing properties. Beato then fraudulently converted that money to his own personal use.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, the Housing and Urban Development Office of the Inspector General, the Department of Homeland Security, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenny P. Roberts is prosecuting the case.

Kwame Insaidoo 60, Bay Shore, Long Island, New York, the former executive director of United Block Association (“UBA”), a New York-based non-profit organization, and his wife Roxanna Insaidoo, 63, Bay Shore, Long Island, New York, were found guilty in Manhattan federal court of embezzlement from a federally funded program, money laundering, and defrauding their mortgage lender. Kwame Insaidoo was also found guilty of defrauding the City of New York in connection with UBA’s contracts to operate senior centers in Upper Manhattan. The jury convicted Kwame and Roxanna Insaidoo on all counts in the superseding indictment following a one-week trial before U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni.

In 2011, Kwame and Roxanna Insaidoo engaged in a scheme to defraud their mortgage lender, in connection with a modification of their mortgage under the federally sponsored Home Affordable Modification Program, by underreporting their income and assets. This scheme led to a write-off of almost $200,000 from Kwame and Roxanna Insaidoo’s home mortgage.

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the verdict and praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York City Department of Investigation and the Criminal Investigators of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eli J. Mark, David Zhou, and Tatiana Martins are in charge of the prosecution.

Drew Alia, 40, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, attorney, was sentence to a 12 month and 1 day term of imprisonment for willfully failing to file federal income tax returns for tax years 2010 through 2013 . Alia operated a home mortgage rescue service that was designed to assist home owners who were facing foreclosure.

During the sentencing hearing before United States District Court Judge Paul Diamond, the Court noted that Alia had received approximately $1.6 million in gross income. Alia was charged, by Information, with four counts of failing to file returns resulting in a tax loss of $127,037. In addition to a term of imprisonment, Judge Diamond also ordered Alia to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service for the tax loss he caused after he is released from prison.

The sentenced was announced Acting United States Attorney Louis D. Lappen.  The case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Floyd J. Miller.

Thomas L. Boyd, 44, Memphis, Tennessee, are real estate investor, pled guilty to bank fraud.  In September 2016, Boyd was indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with a scheme to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans. The indictment alleged that Boyd, the owner of Wonderful Properties, LLC made false statements and presented false documents to Regions Bank, First Tennessee Bank, Bank of America and Oak Tree Funding on behalf of persons who were financing the purchase of properties from Boyd and Wonderful Properties.

According to the indictment, Boyd often made false statements on the loan closing documents by failing to disclose to the lenders on HUD-1 settlement statements that he was kicking back a portion of the loan proceeds to borrowers. Boyd’s scheme caused the lenders to disburse approximately $635,000 in loan proceeds.

At his plea hearing, Boyd admitted making false statements to Regions Bank in connection with a mortgage loan being made to an individual who was financing the purchase of a property from Boyd.

Boyd faces a maximum penalty of 30 years of imprisonment on the bank fraud charge and a fine of up to $1,000,000 and 5 years supervised release and a mandatory special assessment of $100.

The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced on August 9, 2017, by U.S. District Judge Sheryl H. Lipman.

Lawrence J. Laurenzi, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced the guilty plea. The case was investigated by the FBI; Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) – OIG; Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); Postal Inspection Service and IRS. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carroll L. Andre III is prosecuting this case on the government’s behalf.

David W. Schwarz, 60, Orlando, Florida, the former  Chief Financial Officer of Cay Clubs Resorts and Marinas (Cay Clubs), was sentenced to 40 years in prison.  Schwarz was convicted at trial by a federal jury on March 3, 2017 of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of interference with the administration of the IRS.  Chief U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore, sitting in Key West, sentenced Schwarz to 40 years in prison. Judge Moore found that the criminal conduct resulted in $303 million in fraudulent proceeds and approximately $170 million in victim losses. A restitution hearing has been set for July 10, 2017, in Key West.

According to evidence at trial, Schwarz was the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Cay Clubs, which operated purported luxury resorts in the Florida Keys, Clearwater, Orlando, Las Vegas, and elsewhere. Between 2004 and 2008, Cay Clubs grew to more than 1,000 employees and became one of the largest employers in the Florida Keys. Schwarz, who was the one-third owner, and Fred Davis Clark, Jr., a/k/a Dave Clark,  59, formerly a resident of Tavernier, Florida, who was the two-thirds owner, began Cay Clubs in 2004 with fraudulent sales of Cay Clubs units to insiders, using money from Cay Clubs bank accounts to fund the cash to close for purchases, while obtaining mortgage financing from lending institutions. These fraudulent sales were used in marketing materials to falsely show demand for Cay Clubs units and to inflate prices, as Cay Clubs was in reality purchasing units from itself. Proceeds of these sales were diverted to Schwarz and Clark.

Trial evidence established that Cay Clubs raised more than $300 million from approximately 1,400 investors, who purchased units in Cay Clubs developments. Schwarz and Clark failed to remodel the dilapidated properties as they promised investors, while taking millions of dollars out of the company for their own benefit. During the operation of Cay Clubs from 2004 through 2008, Schwarz and Clark diverted more than $30 million in proceeds for themselves, including millions of dollars in cash transfers that were used to purchase property and other businesses, including a gold mine, a rum distillery, aircraft, and a coal reclamation business.

Trial evidence further showed that as Cay Clubs faced dwindling sales due to its failure to upgrade the dilapidated properties in 2006, Schwarz, Clark, and others engaged in additional fraudulent sales of Cay Clubs units to insiders, including Clark’s family members. These mortgage loans were used to prevent Cay Clubs from defaulting on commercial debts. The documents used to obtain these mortgages included falsified signatures and notary attestations, and had Cay Clubs acting as the seller while Schwarz provided the cash to close so that mortgage loans could be obtained to fund the sales.

During the course of this scheme, Schwarz and Clark did not file any corporate tax return for $74 million in income generated by the Cay Clubs entities. Furthermore, neither Schwarz or Clark filed any individual tax return for these years until after an investigation of Cay Clubs by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In 2010 and 2011, Schwarz filed false individual tax returns for tax years 2004, 2005 and 2006, respectively, in which he substantially underreported his income for these tax years and concealed his receipt of millions of dollars in proceeds.

On December 11, 2015, Clark was convicted by a federal jury in connection with related bank fraud charges and obstruction of the SEC. He was sentenced on February 21, 2016, to 40 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez. Former Cay Clubs sales executives Barry Graham, 59, formerly of Ft. Myers, Florida,and Ricky Lynn Stokes, 54,formerly of Ft. Myers, Florida, previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud in related cases and were sentenced to 60 months, and 30 months, respectively.

Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Timothy Mowery, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG), made the announcement. Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the IRS-CI and FHFA-OIG, and the extensive assistance of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office. This matter was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jerrob Duffy, James V. Hayes, and Alison Lehr.