Francisco Javier Gonzalez, a/k/aJavier Gonzalez,” 46, Duncanville, Texas, was sentenced yesterday to 60 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $611,740.55 in restitution for his role in a scheme to defraud numerous homeowners, banks and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, (HUD).

Gonzalez pleaded guilty in September 2017 to one count of mail fraud, stemming from his work at the Dallas County Community Action Committee, Inc. (DCCAC), a non-profit entity accredited by HUD to provide housing counseling.  Gonzalez has been in custody since his arrest in October 2016. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Francisco+Javier+Gonzalez

According to the plea agreement factual resume filed in the case, Gonzalez served as a Vice President and Director for DCCAC, and leased space in the DCCAC offices for another entity, known as Residential Counseling FJ LLC.

While working in the DCCAC building, Gonzalez falsely claimed he was certified by HUD to provide foreclosure counseling assistance.  Gonzalez sought out victims looking for mortgage loan and foreclosure prevention assistance and would then meet these victims in the DCCAC offices or in their homes.

Additionally, as stated in the plea agreement factual resume, Gonzalez prepared and submitted incomplete and false mortgage assistance applications for the victims.  Gonzales instructed the victims to not communicate with the banks, as this would prevent him from effectively obtaining the loan modification.  Additionally, Gonzalez required lump sum payments for his supposed assistance; and instructed the victims to make mortgage payments directly to him indicating he would forward these payments to the bank.

Gonzalez did not submit the monies he was paid by the victims to the banks, but instead used the money for his own personal expenses.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox of the Northern District of Texas.

 

Dorothy Matsuba, 67, her daughter Jamie Matsuba, 33, and her husband, Thomas Matsuba, 67, all of Chatsworth, California, owners and/or managers of Los Angeles, California-area foreclosure rescue companies were sentenced to 240, 135, and 168 months in prison today for their roles in a foreclosure rescue scheme, respectively.

According to evidence presented at trial, from January 2005 to August 2014, Dorothy Matsuba, Jamie Matsuba, Thomas Matsuba and others engaged in a scheme to defraud financially distressed homeowners by offering to prevent foreclosure on their properties through short sales.  Instead, the conspirators rented out the properties to third parties, did not pay the mortgages on the properties, and submitted false and fraudulent documents to mortgage lenders and servicers to delay foreclosure.  The evidence further established that the conspirators obtained mortgages in the names of stolen identities.  The defendants also used additional tactics, including filing bankruptcy in the names of distressed homeowners without their knowledge and fabricating liens on the distressed properties, the evidence showed. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Dorothy+Matsuba

Two other defendants have been charged in this matter.  Defendant Jane Matsuba-Garcia, 42, Camarillo, California, previously pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.  Defendant Young Park Los Angeles, California, is a fugitive.  In addition, in related cases, Jason Hong, 36, Chatsworth, California and Ryu Goeku, 48,  Canoga Park, California, previously pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

All three Matsubas were sentenced by U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner of the Central District of California.  Judge Klausner also ordered the defendants to serve three years of supervised release. Restitution and forfeiture will be decided at a hearing on Aug. 13.  All three defendants were remanded into custody. Dorothy Matsuba pleaded guilty on Dec. 4, 2017, to one count conspiracy to commit wire fraud, false statements to a federally insured bank or mortgage lending business, and identity theft, five counts of wire fraud, six counts of false statements to federally insured banks, and six counts of aggravated identity theft.  On Dec. 13, 2017, after a one-week trial, Jamie Matsuba and Thomas Matsuba were both convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, making false statements to federally insured banks, and committing identity theft and one count of making false statements to federally insured banks.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna for the Central District of California, Assistant Director in Charge Paul D. Delacourt of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division, Acting Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Paul Conlon of the Federal Housing Finance Agency-Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG), Special Agent in Charge R. Damon Rowe of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Los Angeles Field Office, and Sheriff Jim McDonnell of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the FBI, FHFA-OIG, IRS-CI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.  Trial Attorney Niall M. O’Donnell, Senior Litigation Counsel David A. Bybee and Trial Attorney Jennifer L. Farer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.  Senior Trial Attorney Nicholas Acker previously worked on the investigation.

Individuals who believe that they may be a victim in this case should visit the Fraud Section’s Victim Witness website for more information.

James Ignatius Diamond, 68, Riverside, California and Tricia Mae Gruber, 42, Riverside, California were named on July 12, 2018 in a thirty-count indictment for operating a fraudulent debt-elimination scheme to target distressed homeowners.

The indictment outlines how Diamond and his co-defendant Gruber and their co-schemers operated the scheme and highlights thirty instances of wire and mail fraud affecting a financial institution throughout the scheme.

Around 2010 and continuing to about September 2014, defendants Diamond and Gruber, and other co-schemers, knowingly participated in a scheme to defraud distressed homeowners, which also affected financial institutions to which they were indebted.

When targeting victim homeowners with at least one of his pitches, Diamond described a loophole in the Uniform Commercial Code regarding real estate ownership in which the homeowner could become the creditor and the financial institution creditor/lender would become the debtor, according to investigators. The programs purported to eliminate the victims debts altogether. After enrolling in the programs, Diamond and his co-schemers would collect from victims an advance-fee, followed by periodic program fees, and notary fees totaling hundreds of dollars. The average victim paid thousands of dollars, and some victims paid tens of thousands of dollars. Many victims lost their homes, were evicted from their homes, or suffered other adverse economic consequences. The investigation uncovered hundreds of victims with collective losses of more than $1.5 million.

According to the indictment:

Diamond owned and operated businesses with offices located in Riverside County, Californa including Transmitting Assets, Inc., Operation Save Haven, Citizen Beware, and Unlimited Logistics Corporation (collectively known as TAI/UCL). TAI/ULC purported to offer debt-elimination services to homeowners who were behind on their mortgage payments and other debtors who were behind on their debt payments, including car and student loans, in exchange for substantial fees, including an advance fee, periodic program fees, and notary fees.

Diamond, Gruber, and co-schemers induced victims to pay the TAI/ULC fees for services that defendants Diamond and Gruber falsely represented would eliminate the homeowners’ and debtors’ financial obligations to their financial institution creditors.

Defendants Diamond and Gruber recruited victim customers, many of whom did not speak English well or at all, through various means, including live seminars and presentations, as well as written marketing materials.

Defendants Diamond and Gruber and their co-schemers offered two primary methods of purported debt-elimination:

  1. The Diamond Home Claim Reclamation Method, also known as the Free & Clear Method, which targeted financially distressed homeowners; and
  2. The Electronic Funds Transfer Program, which targeted financially-distressed homeowners and victims with other debts including car and student loans.

The defendants and their co-schemers falsely told victim customers that they did not have to continue paying their mortgages after entering into the programs and should instead pay TAI/ULC. Defendant Diamond also falsely told victim customers that if they ceased making mortgage payments to their banks, the banks would be forced to settle with the victim customers.

At least as early as 2010, defendants Diamond and Gruber ignored correspondence they received from various financial institutions and government entities informing them that documents created by the defendants and their co-schemers, which they submitted or directed victim customers to submit to financial institutions (or other creditors) had no legal effect, that they would not discharge any outstanding debts owing, and/or that they were fraudulent.

When victim customers received similar correspondence from financial institutions and government entities and confronted defendants and their co-schemers with this correspondence or requested refunds, defendants Diamond and Gruber ignored them, claimed that the correspondence was part of the debt-elimination process, encouraged the victim customers to pay purported outstanding fees to TAI/ULC so that their debts would be successfully eliminated, or offered to enroll the victim customers in other services for additional fees.

After paying TAI/ULC for services, some victim customers received unlawful detainer notices, notices of trustee sale, and other foreclosure-related documents. Some victim customers lost their properties. When victim customers complained to defendants Diamond and Gruber about these foreclosure-related developments, defendants Diamond and Gruber would ignore them or offer to enroll the victim customers in other services for additional fees.

The defendants and their co-schemers did not comply with state laws and regulations that govern, and in some cases, prohibit the operation of advance-fee loan modification businesses.

Diamond Home Reclamation Method:

In order to participate in the scheme, the defendants and their co-schemers generally required victim customers to pay an advance fee ranging from $3,500 to $8,000 per property, plus additional fees per lien on the property, periodic program fees, and notary fees.

After victim customers paid an advance fee, the defendants and their co-schemers directed the victim customers to travel to the TAI/ULC office in Riverside, California, to provide TAI/ULC employees with information relating to the victim customers’ debt obligations. At the TAI/ULC office, defendants and their co-schemers directed the victim customers to sign various documents that purported to eliminate the victim customers’ debts when sent to financial institutions, including banks and mortgage companies, and government agencies, entities and officials (the Documents).

Defendant Gruber generally notarized the Documents and charged a fee for each document that she notarized, typically between $50 and $300 per document, which was well above the prevailing rate.

The defendants and their co-schemers provided some of the Documents to the victim customers and instructed them to mail the Documents to various entities. The defendants and their co-schemers also filed some of the Documents with county recorders’ offices for additional fees.

In furtherance of this part of the scheme, the defendants and their co-schemers made and caused others to make the following material false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises:

  • That victim customers who paid for the Diamond Home Reclamation Method would eliminate their mortgages entirely and own their residences free and clear when in truth and in fact, as defendants and their co-schemers then well knew, the Diamond Home Reclamation Method would not eliminate victim customers’ mortgages entirely or allow them to own their residences free and clear.
  • That the Diamond Home Reclamation Method had successfully eliminated debt obligations, when in truth and in fact, as the defendants and their co-schemers well knew, the method had not eliminated debt obligations.
  • That the Documents that the defendants and their co-schemers had the victim customers sign and send to financial institutions and government agencies would result in the elimination of the victim customers’ debts, when, in truth and in fact, as the defendants and their co-schemers then knew, the Documents would not eliminate any debt obligations and had no legal effect at all.
  • That victim customers were not legally obligated to continue to pay their mortgages, when in truth and fact, the DHRM did not relieve the victim customers of their obligations to pay their mortgages.
  • That correspondence received from various financial institutions stating that the Documents created by the defendants and their co-schemers had no legal effect, would not discharge outstanding debts owing, and/or were fraudulent actually were part of the debt-elimination process, when in reality, the letters were not part of a process that would eliminate any debt obligations.

The indictment alleges that the defendants knowingly concealed from victims the fact that the Documents had no legal effect and that their Diamond Home Reclamation Method had never succeeded in eliminating a customer’s mortgage obligation.

Diamond Electronic Fund Transfer (Diamond EFT):

In order to participate in the Diamond EFT Program, defendants Diamond and Gruber and their co-schemers generally required victim customers to pay a fee, which they calculated as a percentage, typically 13% of the amount of the debt to be discharged, plus additional program fees and notary fees. The victim customers were required to pay an advance fee, typically several thousand dollars, followed by monthly payments and notary fees. Defendant Diamond sometimes also recorded liens on the victim customers’ properties in the amount of the fee.

After victim customers paid the advance fee, defendants Diamond and Gruber and their co-schemers directed the victim customers to provide the TAI/ULC employees with information relating to the victim customers’ debt obligations.

After victim customers paid the advance fee, defendant Diamond prepared and directed to be prepared, among other documents, documents that appeared to be checks in the name of James I. Diamond, made payable to the victims’ financial institution creditors in the amounts of the balances owed on the victim customer debt obligations (the EFT Checks). The memoranda lines on the EFT Checks bore the words, FOR EFT ONLY FOR THE DISCHARGE OF DEBT, or similar words. Defendant Diamond and Gruber and their co-schemers then provided the EFT Checks to the victim customers and instructed the victim customers to mail the EFT Checks to their financial institution creditors and other entities as purported payments satisfying the outstanding balances owed by the victim customers.

Defendant Gruber generally notarized documents relating to the EFT process and charged a fee for each document that she notarized, typically between $50 and $300 per document, which was well above the prevailing market rate.

When victim customers advised defendants Diamond and Gruber that their financial institutions had rejected the EFT checks, defendant Diamond falsely told the victim customers that this was part of the debt-elimination process and that customer victims were required to continue making monthly payments to TAI/ULC in the amount of 13% of the amount of the debt obligation.

If a victim customer stopped paying the monthly payments, defendant Diamond would:

  • advise the victim customer that the debt-elimination process would not work until she/he had completed all payments;
  • threaten to foreclose on the victim customer’s property or other assets; and
  • threaten to assess late fees

In furtherance of this part of the scheme, defendants Diamond and Gruber and their co-schemers made and caused others to make the following material and false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises:

  • That victim customers who paid for the Diamond EFT Program would be able to discharge or entirely eliminate their debt obligations, including home mortgages, car loans, and student loans, when in truth and fact, as defendants and their co-schemers then well knew, the Diamond EFT Program would not discharge or entirely eliminate victim customers’ debt obligations.
  • That EFT Checks were valid, legal tender, drawn on open bank account, when in truth and in fact, as the defendants and their co-schemers then well knew, the EFT Checks were not valid, legal tender, and were not drawn on open bank accounts.
  • That EFT Checks would pay off the victim customers’ debts when in truth and fact, as defendants and their co-schemers then well knew, the EFT Checks would not pay off the victim customers’ debts.
  • That the financial institutions’ rejection of the EFT checks was part of the debt-elimination process, when in truth and in fact, as the defendants and their co-schemers well knew, the financial institutions’ rejection of the EFT Checks was not part of a process that would eliminate any debt obligations.
  • Also in furtherance of this part of the scheme, defendants Diamond and Gruber knowingly concealed the following material facts from the victim customers:
    • That the EFT Checks were not valid, legal tender and instead contained account numbers belonging to closed bank accounts.
    • That the EFT Checks had never succeeded in eliminating a customer’s debt obligations.

As a result of the fraudulent scheme, defendants Diamond and Gruber induced hundreds of distressed homeowners and other debtors to pay more than $1.5 million in fees to TAI/ULC.

Diamond was arrested Thursday at his residence without incident. Gruber, a notary public and office manager, will be summonsed to federal court at a future date.

Diamond appeared in federal court in Los Angeles Thursday afternoon for an initial appearance. If convicted of the charges in the indictment, Diamond and Gruber face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in prison each.

Investigators believe there may be other victims of this scheme not yet identified. If you believe you may have been victimized in this scheme, or have information about someone who has, you are encouraged to contact your nearest FBI office. In Los Angeles, the FBI can be reached 24/7 at (310) 477-6565.

Nicola T. Hanna, the United States Attorney in Los Angeles, and Paul D. Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Los Angeles Division, Riverside Resident Agency, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Cassie D. Palmer of the Major Frauds Section.

An indictment merely contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at trial.

 

Timothy Scott Wenk, 51, Chesterfield County, Virginia, was sentenced today to 12 years in prison for defrauding approximately 51 customers of more than $600,000.

According to court documents, Wenk, operated several businesses, including of Premier Consulting Services, Capital Business Services and Premier Credit Consultants, which purported to offer a variety of financial services, including mortgage finance and credit repair services. Wenk offered to connect victims who had credit problems to private lenders and “hard money lenders” who would be sources of financing for mortgages for victims who would be unable to obtain more conventional financing. In many instances, Wenk claimed to be working on victims’ behalf to help them bring home sales to closing, rectify tax liens, and provide other real estate related financial consulting and services. While Wenk’s relationship with each victim and the misrepresentations he made to them was unique, the evidence in the case showed a recurrent theme where Wenk received thousands of dollars for which he did little to nothing in return. Wenk introduced himself to many of his victims as Timothy Scott so that they could not be able to research his criminal history, which included over 20 felony convictions, many of which for fraud-related offenses. In addition to the 12-year sentence imposed, the sentencing judge ordered Wenk to pay victims a total of $606,044.99 in restitution.

Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Adam S. Lee, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office, and Colonel Jeffrey S. Katz, Chesterfield County Police Department, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian R. Hood prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:17-cr-85.

Geo Geovanni, 49, and Elizabeth Longerbone, 39, both of Moultrie, Georgia, have been charged today with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and four counts of bank fraud.

According to the indictment, Geovanni and Longerbone devised and executed a mortgage fraud scheme involving “The Landing,” a condominium conversion of a former apartment complex located in Altamonte Springs, Florida. The scheme involved providing the cash-to-close funds on behalf of the buyers, guarantying tenants and rental payments to the buyers, as well as paying post-closing kickbacks of mortgage proceeds to buyers and co-conspirators through entities that Geovanni and Longerbone controlled. None of the incentives or kickbacks were disclosed to the financial institutions that had approved and funded the mortgage loans.

If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison for each count.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the FBI. It will be prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

Imran Awan, 38, Alexandria, Virginia, pled guilty today to a federal charge stemming from a false statement made on a home equity loan.

According to plea documents filed today, on December 12, 2016, while in the District of Columbia, Awan submitted an online application in the name of his wife, Hina Alvi, to a credit union for a home equity line of credit on a property that she owned in Alexandria, Virginia. Awan made a material misrepresentation in the application by stating that the property was his wife’s primary residence and not a rental property. In fact, she was renting the property to tenants at the time. Awan made the misrepresentation because the credit union had a policy of not extending home equity lines of credit on rental properties. On January 5, 2017, the credit union offered a home equity line of credit of $165,000. Then, between January 12 and January 18, 2017, the credit union transferred $165,000 into the account. Awan paid off the balance on January 18, 2017.

Awan and his wife were indicted on federal charges related to the loan in August 2017. Both had pled not guilty to the charges. Under the plea agreement with Awan, the government agreed to ask the Court to dismiss all charges against Alvi at the time that Awan is sentenced.

The charge carries a statutory maximum of 30 years in prison. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he faces a likely range of zero to six months of incarceration. The Honorable Tanya S. Chutkan scheduled sentencing for Aug. 21, 2018.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Matthew R. Verderosa, Chief of the United States Capitol Police, and Matthew J. DeSarno, Special Agent in Charge, of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Capitol Police and the FBI’s Washington Field Office. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Garth Anthony Gardner, 49, a citizen of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, pled guilty yesterday to charges involving a scheme in which he made misrepresentations to apply for and obtain more than $3 million in multiple home equity line of credit loans.

According to the government’s evidence, in October 2003, Gardner purchased a property in the 5100 block of 13th Street NW, Washington, DC, using the Social Security number of another person and falsely representing himself as a U.S. citizen.  In May 2005, he used a corporation that he owned to purchase a second property in the 1300 block of Dexter Terrace SE, Washington, DC.  Gardner transferred ownership of the second property from the company to himself for $10.  Next, Gardner applied for a series of home equity line of credit loans using the two properties as collateral.

By settling these loans in close proximity to each other, Gardner minimized the banks’ ability to learn about the other loans.  From August to October 2004, Gardner obtained 12 home equity line of credit loans from 12 different banks secured by the 13th Street property, totaling approximately $1.4 million.  Between March and April 2006, Gardner applied for 13, and obtained 12, such loans from 12 banks, secured by the Dexter Terrace property, totaling approximately $1.9 million.

In approximately February 2008, Gardner stopped making payments and defaulted on all of the loans.  The banks discovered Gardner’s fraudulent conduct after initiating foreclosure proceedings on the properties.

Gardner admitted that he used a portion of the proceeds from the fraudulent scheme to purchase 15 silver bars, which the government recovered and liquidated for about $1.1 million.

Gardner was arrested in Frankfurt, Germany in May 2017, and was extradited to the District of Columbia in February 2018, to face the charges that had been pending since 2014.  He remains in custody pending his sentencing.

Gardner pled guilty on July 2, 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to two counts of bank fraud. Each charge carries a statutory maximum of 30 years in prison and potential financial penalties. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he faces an estimated range of 51 to 63 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. The plea agreement calls for him to pay $3,165,294 in restitution to 24 financial institutions. It also calls for him to pay a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $2,048,446. The Honorable Christopher R. Cooper scheduled sentencing for Sept. 24, 2018.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Acting Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Washington D.C. Field Office.

In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Liu and Acting Special Agent in Charge Jackson commended the work performed by those who investigated the case from the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. They also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the Washington Field Office of the U.S. Secret Service and the Office of the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration. They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle Bradford, David A. Last, Diane Lucas and Denise A. Simmonds, and Paralegal Specialist Aisha Keys.

Robert McCloud, 39, Warrenville, South Carolina, pled guilty today to a federal wire fraud charge stemming from a real estate scheme in which he and others used forged deeds and fake driver’s licenses to fraudulently transfer ownership of District of Columbia homes from the rightful owners.

According to the government’s evidence, McCloud and others identified vacant or seemingly abandoned residential properties in the District of Columbia, and then prepared and filed forged deeds with the District of Columbia’s Recorder of Deeds transferring the properties into fictitious names. Next, they agreed to sell these properties to legitimate purchasers and arranged with unsuspecting title and escrow companies to finalize the sale and transfer ownership. Finally, they shared the fraudulently-obtained sales proceeds amongst themselves.

In his guilty plea, McCloud admitted taking part in two such fraudulent transactions within a two-month period of 2015, which generated a total of $580,482 in proceeds.

In the first, in April 2015, McCloud filed a forged Intra-Family deed with the District of Columbia’s Recorder of Deeds purporting to show that a home in the unit block of K Street NW, Washington, DC was transferred from the true owners to a fictitious person.  The true owners, who owned the home outright without any mortgage liens, did not sign the deed and did not give anyone permission to transfer their home. McCloud then appeared at the title company pretending to be the owner in order to close the transaction, presenting a California driver’s license with his photograph but in the name of the fictitious person, signing the settlement documents and selling the property. The title company sent by wire transfer $195,527 to a bank account opened in the name of the fictitious person. McCloud withdrew approximately $43,000 of the funds before the crime was discovered; the rest of the funds were returned to the title company.

In the second transaction, in May 2015, a conspirator arranged for a forged deed with respect to another home, in the 6400 block of 16th Street NW, Washington, DC, to be filed with the Recorder of Deeds. As with the other property, the true owners, who owned the home outright without any mortgage liens, did not sign the deed and did not give anyone permission to sell the residence. In June 2015, McCloud appeared at the title company pretending to be the owner and using another fake California driver’s license with his photograph.  He again signed the settlement documents in the fictitious name. The title company sent by wire transfer $384,955 to a bank account opened in the name of the fictitious person. McCloud was arrested the following day.

Although McCloud received $580,482 in proceeds from his wire fraud scheme regarding both real properties, law enforcement seized a total of $369,990, which was later administratively forfeited.  These forfeited funds, and the partial return of funds to the title company from the K Street transaction, reduced the amount owed in forfeiture to $57,965, which is the amount of the forfeiture money judgment.

The harm caused to the owners, buyers, and title companies was covered by title insurance; the restitution amount of $200,488 is the amount due and owing to the title insurance companies after giving credit to the forfeited funds, which were returned to the victims.

McCloud pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The charge carries a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and potential financial penalties. Under federal sentencing guidelines, McCloud faces a likely range of 27 to 33 months in prison and a fine of up to $60,000. He also has agreed to pay $200,488 in restitution to two title insurance companies, as well as a forfeiture money judgment of $57,965. The Honorable Amit P. Mehta scheduled sentencing for Oct. 19, 2018.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Liu, Assistant Director in Charge McNamara, and Chief Newsham commended the work performed by those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Metropolitan Police Department. They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Diane Lucas and Stephanie Miller, former Paralegal Specialist Christopher Toms, Paralegal Specialist Aisha Keys, and Litigation Technology Specialist Leif Hickling. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Cheatham, who is prosecuting the case.

Aderibigbe Ogundiran, 36,  Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York has been sentenced today to two to six years in prison for stealing a 19th century mansion in Fort Greene, New York as well as stealing or attempting to steal five other properties in a brazen scheme in which he transferred title of other people’s properties to himself.

According to the investigation, between February 2015 and December 2016, the defendant engaged in a scheme to steal title to or the economic benefit from six residential properties in Brooklyn, New York, targeting properties whose title holders were deceased or properties that no one seemed to be taking care of.

The defendant took advantage of the apparent inattention to the properties by filing fraudulent deeds or other instruments against the properties in an effort to gain control of them. In fact, he gained control or attempted to gain control of them in a variety of ways that included using aliases, corporate alter-egos, impostors, forged driver’s licenses, misuse of personal identifying information, and forged notarizations.

The defendant targeted the following properties:

  • 176 Washington Park, Fort Greene, New York: This property is a landmarked 19th century five-story, 10-bedroom mansion located on a double-lot directly across from Fort Greene Park and is part of the Fort Greene Historic District. On March 8, 2015, Ogundiran used a Notary Public to notarize and file a deed transferring ownership from the actual owner of the property, a deceased man whose elderly sister lived in the house, to GCU Group, Inc., a corporation controlled by Ogundiran, using an impostor to pose as the deceased owner. The deed was filed with the New York City Department of Finance, Office of the City Register, which recorded the deed on June 26, 2015, transferring ownership to the corporation controlled by Ogundiran.
  • 123 Albany Avenue, Crown Heights, New York: This property is a three-story brownstone. On March 13, 2015, the defendant once again hired a Notary Public to notarize signatures and file with the City Register, a deed purporting to transfer title of 123 Albany Avenue from the rightful owner to himself, once again using an impostor to pose as the rightful owner. The identity assumed by the impostor was that of a person who in fact had died in 2011. The fraudulent deed was recorded by the City Register on March 30, 2015.
  • 42 Albany Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York: This property was purchased in 2004 by an individual who died in 2010. On November 19, 2015, the City Register recorded a Power of Attorney against this property granting the defendant the right to engage in real estate transactions and other powers on behalf of the property. The deceased owner purportedly signed the Power of Attorney on June 15, 2015. On November 18, 2016, the defendant filed a deed purportedly signed by the deceased owner on July 30, 2015 conveying title to the property to Ogundiran for $500.
  • 1024 Hendrix Street, East New York: This property was purchased in 1997 by an individual who died in 2007. On October 6, 2015, the deceased owner purportedly executed a power of attorney benefitting 1024 Hendrix LLC, a corporation controlled by the defendant. On October 9, 2015, the City Register recorded a Power of Attorney against the property.
  • 1424 Fulton Street, Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York: This property, a three-story residential building with commercial space on the ground floor, was purchased by three individuals in 2013. On November 9, 2016, Ogundiran filed a Power of Attorney with the City Register which was purportedly from one of the actual owners to a corporation incorporated and controlled by the defendant. The Power of Attorney contained the forged signatures of another of the owners and a Notary Public.
  • 49 Albany Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York: This property, a two-story house, was owned by an individual who died in 2007, leaving an only child who resided outside of the United States. On November 9, 2016, the defendant filed a forged Power of Attorney against 49 Albany Avenue. The Power of Attorney granted rights to a corporation controlled by the defendant and was purportedly signed by the deceased owner and a Notary Public.

The investigation began after the resident of 176 Washington Park, Fort Greene, New York received notice that she would have to vacate the premises. She notified her attorney, who then filed a complaint with the New York City Department of Finance.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made the announcement.

District Attorney Gonzalez said that in at least one instance, involving 42 Albany Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York the defendant collected rent from a tenant after leasing out an apartment. In another instance, involving 1424 Fulton Street, Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York he was captured on videotape filing a Power of Attorney at the City Register’s office, after the actual owner of the property received an email alert of a document filed against the property.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “All too often we are seeing thieves targeting seemingly abandoned properties to try to cash in on Brooklyn’s soaring real estate prices. With today’s sentence, the defendant has been held accountable. Homeowners can protect themselves by registering with the Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS) so that they are automatically informed of changes made to documents associated with their property – as happened with one of the victims in this case – to alert them to potential theft and fraud related to their property.”

Ogundiran was sentenced by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to an indeterminate term of two to six years in prison. The defendant pleaded guilty to first-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheme to defraud on March 7, 2018.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Gavin Miles, Counsel to the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, Chief of the Real Estate Frauds Unit, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division.

Robert Parker, 53, Easton, Pennsylvania, an attorney, was indicted today for allegedly stealing funds in his escrow account. Parker is charged with two counts of second- and third-degree grand larceny and two counts of first-degree perjury.

According to the indictment, between 2014 and 2018, the defendant, allegedly stole a down payment of approximately $98,000 in connection with a real estate transaction and a settlement of $55,000 from a client, and rebuffed numerous attempts to contact him.

Parker was released without bail and ordered to return to court on September 19, 2018.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez made the announcement.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant was entrusted to safeguard these funds, but instead allegedly stole the money and used it for his own purposes. We will now hold him accountable for his alleged criminal actions.

The case was referred to the District Attorney’s Office by the Grievance Committee.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Sara Walshe, of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michael Spanakos, Unit Chief, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.