Aminullah “David” Sarpas, 37, Irvine, California and Samuel Paul Bain, 40, Tustin, California were sentenced late this afternoon, with one being ordered to serve 12 years in federal prison, for their key roles in businesses that offered bogus modification programs to homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

The two defendants who were associated with the Santa Ana, California based company U.S. Homeowners Relief and several related businesses participated in a long-running “advance fee” scheme that caused more than 1,600 homeowners to suffer over $3.5 million in losses. Many victims lost their homes in subsequent foreclosure proceedings.

The Defendants were also co-owners of Greenleaf Modify, Waypoint Law Group, and American Lending Review.

Sarpas and Bain established U.S. Homeowners Relief in late 2008, using it and the subsequent companies to offer programs that falsely offered to help distressed homeowners obtain modifications of their mortgages. Sarpas and Bain initially marketed the programs themselves, but they also used TV, radio and internet advertisements, as well as a team of telemarketers to entice victims. Homeowners who agreed to participate – based on false claims, including that the companies had a 97 percent success rate in obtaining loan modifications that dramatically reduced monthly mortgage payments – were charged an advance fee ranging between $1,450 and $4,200. In short, the scheme “compounded these homeowners’ financial woes by inducing them to dig the hole they were in even deeper,” prosecutors wrote in court documents.

There were two other defendants named in a 2014 indictment. One man was acquitted of all counts. The fourth defendant, Louis Saggiani, 70, Huntington Beach, California pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced in October.

Sarpas was sentenced to 144 months in federal prison after being convicted by a jury in April 2019 of 10 counts of conspiracy and mail fraud.

Bain was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty in 2016 to conspiracy and mail fraud.

The two men were sentenced by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney.

The investigation was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) and IRS Criminal Investigation.

This matter was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Ryan G. Adams of the Santa Ana Branch Office and Assistant United States Attorney David H. Chao of the Major Frauds Section.

Michael Scott Leslie, 57, Boulder, Colorado, pleaded guilty today to federal bank fraud and aggravated identity theft charges.

According to the stipulated facts contained in Leslie’s plea agreement, Leslie owned, operated, or otherwise had an interest in several business entities, some of which were operated out of Colorado.  These entities were involved in or affiliated with financing or originating residential mortgage loans.  Through these business entities, Leslie sold residential mortgage loans to investors, including an FDIC-insured bank in Texas (“the victim bank”).

Between October 2015 and October 2017, Leslie devised and executed a scheme to defraud the victim bank by selling it 144 fraudulent residential mortgage loans valued at $31,908,806.88.  These loans were purportedly originated by one of Leslie’s companies, Montage Mortgage, and “closed” by Snowberry, which earned fees for the closing.  The loans were then presented and sold to the victim bank until Montage identified a final investor.  For these 144 fraudulent loans, that final investor was Mortgage Capital Management (MCM)

Leslie never disclosed to the victim bank that he operated MCM and Snowberry, or the fact that sales to investor MCM, even if they had been real, were not arms-length transactions.

The 144 residential mortgage loans sold to the victim bank were not, in fact, real loans.  The borrowers listed on these 144 fraudulent loans were real individuals, but they had no idea that their identities had been used as part of the sale of the fraudulent loans. The defendant had access to their personal identifying information in one of two primary ways:  (1) the borrowers had used Montage for legitimate residential real estate transactions which were properly executed and closed, or (2) the borrowers had been solicited by Montage about refinancing their existing loans.  In the case of refinance transactions, Montage secured permission from the borrowers to request credit scores and history from the major credit agencies.  After receipt of those credit scores, Montage often told these would-be refinance borrowers that they did not qualify for a refinance.  Leslie then recycled the borrowers’ information, obtained through prior legitimate transactions or attempted refinances, to create and sell nearly $32 million of fraudulent loan packages.

To execute this scheme, Leslie forged signatures on closing documents and fabricated and altered credit reports as well as title documents, often by using the names of legitimate companies.  The fraudulent real estate transactions were never filed with the respective counties in which the properties were located, there were no closings, and no liens were ever recorded.  Through numerous bank accounts for the various business entities and his personal accounts, the defendant used money in a Ponzi-like fashion from prior fraudulent loans sold to the victim bank to fund future fraudulent loans.  This complex flow of money continued until the defendant’s fraud was detected.  When the fraud was discovered, the victim bank still had 12 fraudulent loans, valued at $3,887,505.93, on its books that it could not, given that the loans did not exist, sell to any other legitimate third-party investor.

Leslie appeared remotely on a $50,000 unsecured bond, which was continued at the hearing’s conclusion.  The Denver office of the FBI, and the Offices of the Inspector General for both the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) joined in today’s announcement.

United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn made the announcement.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Philip A. Brimmer presided over the change of plea hearing today, July 31, 2020.  Leslie was first charged by information on June 5, 2020.  This case was investigated by the Denver office of the FBI, and the Offices of the Inspector General for both the Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.  The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Hetal J. Doshi and Jeremy Sibert.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado.  Related court documents can be found on PACER by searching for Case Number 20-cr-171.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr., 60, and Nancy Plunkett, 55, both of Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, a former Massachusetts attorney and his wife were indicted today in federal court in Boston in connection with various mortgage fraud schemes.

According to the indictment, until he was disbarred in October 2017, Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. owned and operated the Plunkett Law Firm where his wife, Nancy Plunkett, was his office assistant and paralegal.

The indictment alleges that the defendants engaged in several bank fraud schemes. In one scheme, from September 2012 to July 2016, the defendants defrauded six mortgage lenders and 14 homeowners for whom the Plunkett Law Firm handled the closings for new mortgage loans to refinance residential properties. The defendants informed the mortgage lenders that pre-existing mortgages were paid off from the new loan proceeds when, in fact, the Plunketts intentionally failed to pay off the prior liens and instead converted more than $900,000 in payoff funds for their own purposes.

In other bank fraud schemes – between April 2015 and March 2018 – it is alleged that the Plunketts fraudulently used various names, entities and false documents to obtain three successive mortgage loans on their home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts in amounts of $412,000, $470,000 and $1.2 million. The defendants pledged as collateral a property in Hyannis Port that was held in a family trust for which Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. was one of three beneficiaries. Both defendants participated in providing false documents to the lenders, including false title reports and other records to falsely represent that the property was free and clear of existing mortgage liens and forged documents in the names of other people. The defendants also allegedly made misrepresentations to a lender that Nancy Plunkett was a single woman living in Wellesley who was purchasing the property in her maiden name as a business investment when, in fact, the defendants had been married since 2014 and the property was their residence.

Both were were indicted on five counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. was also charged with one count of tax evasion.

The charge of bank fraud provides for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of tax evasion provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.  The charge of aggravated identity theft provides for a mandatory two-year sentence to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

 

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor A. Wild of Lelling’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.

David Daughtrey, 60, El Cajon, California, pleaded guilty in federal court today to bank fraud and tax evasion charges, admitting that over the course of several years he evaded taxes by failing to report $498,612 of income to the IRS, and also orchestrated an illegal scheme to fraudulently obtain a mortgage for his $1.8 million residence using a third party.

Daughtrey admitted that from July 2006 until April 2016, he conspired with others to commit bank fraud and tax evasion. As part of the bank fraud scheme, Daughtrey directed another individual to submit a mortgage application to Wells Fargo to purchase a $1.8 million five-bedroom residence, and to falsely claim that the funds used as down payment belonged to the third party and the residence would be used by the third party.  In reality, Daughtrey provided the funds, and the home was intended to be Daughtrey’s primary residence. Daughtrey made monthly mortgage payments of approximately $8,000 for his residence, but continued to represent to the bank that the third party owned the house.  Daughtrey later submitted a false hardship letter on behalf of the third party in an effort to get the bank to modify the terms of the loan on the home.  As part of the plea agreement, Daughtrey admitted he was the true owner of the residence at all relevant times, and promised to make a good faith effort to transfer the legal ownership of the home into his own name.

Daughtrey also admitted as part his plea that over several years, he and his spouse (who is not charged in the case) conspired to commit tax evasion by filing tax returns listing substantially less income than Daughtrey actually earned.  Daughtrey’s tax return for the year 2012 omitted at least $498,612 in income.  Daughtrey failed to report his total income in tax years 2013, 2014, and 2015, and did not file timely tax returns for subsequent years.  According to the plea agreement, the resulting tax loss to the IRS for the years 2012-2014 was $456,536.   Daughtrey agreed to pay $1,016,457.91 in restitution to the IRS, which includes the total tax loss plus penalties and interest.

As part of his plea agreement, David Daughtrey also agreed to pay over $1 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 16, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns.

People who cheat on their taxes are cheating all other law-abiding tax payers,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “Mr. Daughtrey blatantly disregarded his tax obligations for years.  The defendant not only abused the tax system for his own financial benefit, but conspired to commit bank fraud in order to maintain this lifestyle.” Brewer commended the excellent work of prosecutor Oleksandra Johnson and FBI and IRS agents.

The FBI is dedicated to ensuring that white collar crimes are uncovered and prosecuted,” stated FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Omer Meisel. “Today, David Daughtrey has admitted to mortgage fraud and tax evasion.  This case illustrates that the FBI will continue to investigate those individuals that engage in fraudulent financial schemes that cause harm to our banking industry and defraud the government of tax revenue.

Our Nation’s tax system funds critical infrastructures and vital programs, including supporting our citizens and small businesses during the ongoing pandemic,” Ryan L. Korner, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “Honest Americans’ compliance with the tax laws is imperative. Rather than pay his fair share, David Daughtrey chose to live lavishly, while intentionally failing to report his true income and evading the payment of over $400,000 in taxes.  Today’s guilty plea demonstrates that the IRS will diligently continue our important enforcement efforts despite the ongoing challenges posed by Covid-19.  We will work alongside our law enforcement partners in a collective effort to enforce the law and ensure the public trust.”

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud and Tax Evasion, 18 U.S.C. § 371 (count 1); and

Making a False Tax Return, 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1) (count 2).

Maximum penalty:

Five years’ imprisonment and $250,000 fine (count 1)

Three years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greatest (count 2)

AGENCY

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Internal Revenue Service

 

Ginger Lynn Cunningham, 39, formerly of Hendersonville, North Carolina and currently residing in Brevard, North Carolina was sentenced yesterday, for selling fake title insurance policies.

According to information contained in filed court documents and presented in court during Cunningham’s sentencing hearing, Cunningham owned and operated Blue Ridge Title Company, an independent title insurance agency located in Buncombe County, North Carolina. Beginning in February 2015, Cunningham became an authorized independent agent for Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company (Commonwealth).  As an authorized agent, Cunningham’s title agency sold title insurance policies underwritten by Commonwealth and collected premium payments during real estate closings.  Under the agreement with Commonwealth, Cunningham’s Blue Ridge Title Company would keep 80% of the premium payments, and the remaining 20% would be sent to Commonwealth. On or about March 21, 2016, Commonwealth terminated their agreement with Blue Ridge Title Company, because Cunningham failed to submit premium payments as required to Commonwealth.  At the time of termination, Blue Ridge Title Company owed Commonwealth in excess of $25,000 in premium payments.

According to court documents, from March 2016 until October 2017, Cunningham continued to represent herself and Blue Ridge Title Company to be an independent agent of Commonwealth, despite knowing that she no longer had any relationship with Commonwealth, and continued to sell fictitious title insurance policies and collect premium payments. The buyers of these bogus title insurance policies did not know that they were not underwritten by any insurance provider, and thus had no value.  Court records show that Cunningham further deceived her customers by drafting official looking, but fictitious, policy documents that bore the name of Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company and fabricated policy numbers.  Cunningham kept 100% of the premium payments associated with these worthless policy sales.  As court records show, during the relevant time period, Cunningham sold at least 973 counterfeit title insurance policies and received at least $412,344 in premiums for the bogus policies. On October 28, 2019, Cunningham pleaded guilty wire fraud.

The announcement was made by Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

In addition to the prison term imposed, Cunningham was ordered to serve three years under court supervision and to pay $412,344 as restitution.

In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney Murray commended the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, and the North Carolina Department of Insurance for their investigation of this case.

Assistant United States Attorney Don Gast, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville, prosecuted the case for the United States.

Wesley T. Bishop, 52, New Orleans, Louisiana was sentenced to four years of probation for making a false statement.

Bishop admitted to knowingly and willfully making a false, material statement to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) in connection with rental property that he owned.

As explained by FBI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Bryan Vorndran, “Former State Senator Bishop made false statements on HUD paperwork which resulted in Bishop receiving a forgivable $188,000 loan under the “road home” program.”

Pursuant to the plea agreement, Bishop has agreed to pay restitution of $188,000 to the State of Louisiana, Division of Administration, Office of Community Development, which administers the subject Small Rental Property Program on behalf of HUD.  In addition to probation, Bishop has been ordered to pay a $100.00 special assessment fee.

U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser made the announcement.

U.S. Attorney Strasser praised the work and tireless efforts of the HUD Office of Inspector General and the FBI in investigating, and of Assistant United States Attorney Andre J. Lagarde in prosecuting this matter.

Willis Edwards III, 49, formerly of East Orange, New Jersey, and currently of Lithonia, Georgia, the former acting business administrator for the Township of Orange, New Jersey, has been charged in a 28-count indictment with conspiracy, bribe-taking, money and property fraud, federal tax fraud, and making false statements in connection with a mortgage.

According to documents filed in this case:

In January 2015, Edwards had his friend, Franklyn Ore, from Urban Partners LLC (Urban Partners), using cash provided by Edwards, funnel to himself a stream of concealed kickbacks in exchange for Edwards’ official action as an Orange public official and assistance in the affairs of Orange and in violation of his duties in connection with:

  • A Saturday literacy program for which Orange and the Orange Public Library were awarded a $50,000 Community Development Block Grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and administered by Essex County, to provide tutoring services for low and moderate-income families (the Saturday Literacy Program);
  • A project for which an urban planning company located in Montclair, New Jersey, had received a one-year, $150,000 contract from Orange to provide professional economic planning services to analyze the conditions within the Central Orange Redevelopment Area (the “redevelopment project”); and
  • A project to acquire the Orange YWCA building and develop it into a community recreation center.

Making False Statements in Connection with a Mortgage

In 2014, Edwards also made false statements to obtain mortgage relief on a $248,000 30-year mortgage loan that he obtained in 2005 to purchase a residence in East Orange, New Jersey. As of February 11, 2014, Edwards had fallen substantially in arrears on his mortgage payments. On April 7, 2014, Edwards submitted a completed Request for Mortgage Assistance form to the mortgage servicer. Edwards disclosed that he was employed by Orange and falsely indicated that he did not have a second employer, when, at the time, he also was employed by a New Jersey County College at an annual salary of approximately $45,000. On October 8, 2014, Edwards and the mortgage servicer entered into a Home Affordable Modification Agreement. In reliance upon false representations made by Edwards, the mortgage servicer provided the following benefits, among others, to Edwards: (1) $95,590 of Edwards’s debt was forgiven between July 2015 and July 2017, and (2) the real estate property was taken out of foreclosure.

The Saturday Literacy Program Fraud and Kickbacks

Despite knowing that Urban Partners did not provide any services to the library in connection with the Saturday Literacy Program, Edwards caused false and fraudulent vouchers to be submitted in March 2015 and in May 2015 to Essex County seeking Saturday literacy grant funds for expenses purportedly paid to Urban Partners. In support of the fraudulent vouchers, Edwards had phony documents submitted to Essex County, including: (1) a sham contract between Urban Partners and the library, backdated to over six months before Urban Partners had been formed, (2) false statistical data about the children who supposedly attended the literacy sessions, (3) fake Urban Partners invoices, and (4) backdated library checks payable to Urban Partners that had not been negotiated when submitted to Essex County to give the false impression that the Library had paid Urban Partners, when it had not done so.

Between April 2015 and June 2015, Essex County provided the Library with $50,000 in HUD funds for the Saturday Literacy Program. Between May 2015 and August 2015, Edwards caused the library to pay Urban Partners approximately $36,000, despite knowing that Urban Partners had not provided the library with any services in connection with the Saturday Literacy Program. Edwards received kickbacks from Ore from the money paid to Urban Partners by the library. At Edwards’s direction, Ore also provided a portion of the proceeds from the library to an associate of Edwards. Ore spent the remaining proceeds for his own personal benefit.

The Redevelopment Project Fraud and Kickbacks

Edwards used his influence as an Orange public official to arrange for the planning company to hire Urban Partners after the planning company had received its contract with Orange. Ore provided services to the Planning Committee and, between August 2015 and February 2016, the planning company, which was receiving payments from Orange, paid Urban Partners $33,220. Edwards received kickbacks from Ore from the money that the planning company paid to Urban Partners.

The YWCA Project Fraud and Kickback

In December 2015, aware that his resignation as an Orange public official would become effective on December 31, 2015, Edwards took further steps to use his position for corrupt and fraudulent purposes. Edwards advised Ore that Edwards had access to Orange discretionary funds and wanted to use them by the end of the year. At Edwards’s instruction, Ore generated and submitted a fraudulent invoice from Urban Partners to Orange, billing Orange $16,800 for services purportedly related to the YWCA Project. Edwards, knowing that no services has been rendered, approved the issuance of a purchase order and Orange paid Urban Partners $16,800.  On December 30, 2015, Edwards received a substantial amount of the $16,800 in a kickback from Ore.

The Plagiarism Scheme

From June 2015 to June 2016, Edwards duped Orange into making payments to a consultant, which were, at least in part, for academic papers that the consultant arranged to have written for Edwards. Edwards, who was enrolled in a graduate program at a university in New Jersey, plagiarized the papers that Orange paid for and passed them off as his own work. Between December 2015 and March 2016, with Edwards’s approval, the consultant submitted three fraudulent invoices to Orange calling for payments of $12,000, $16,000, and $10,000 for purported professional services. Orange paid the money to the consultant and Edwards received from the consultant academic papers that had been written for him. On June 20, 2016, Edwards submitted several papers which were virtually identical to the papers that he had received from the consultant. In emails to the professors, to which the papers were attached, Edwards asked the professors to grade the attached outstanding assignments so that he did “not receive a failing grade for all of the hard work that [he had] done.”

The Graduate School Payments Scheme

The indictment also charges Edwards with fraud in connection with funding his graduate studies. Between December 2015 and July 2016, Edwards engaged in a scheme to defraud Orange of $25,142 in payments to himself and University 1 related to Edwards’s graduate courses there and at another university in New Jersey through the use of a fraudulent approval memorandum. In February 2016, when Edwards was no longer an Orange public official, he dictated the following language to an employee in Orange’s Finance Department (Orange Employee 1) for use in a fraudulent approval memorandum addressed to Edwards: “As per the employee handbook, this memorandum serves as consent for you [Edwards] to enroll in the courses as discussed. Please forward the invoices to process for payment.” Edwards instructed Orange Employee 1 to backdate the memorandum to Aug. 17, 2015, to give the false impression that Edwards had received approval for Orange to pay for academic courses in which he had enrolled.

On February 10, 2016, at Edwards’s direction, Orange Employee 1 sent an email to a senior public official in the office of the Mayor of Orange (Orange Employee 2) containing a draft of the fraudulent approval memorandum. Orange Employee 2 later provided Orange Employee 1 with a final copy of the fraudulent approval memorandum on Orange letterhead, purportedly from the Mayor of Orange, addressed to Edwards, and backdated to August 17, 2015. It included the language that Edwards dictated to Orange Employee 1 and bore the stamp of the initials of the Mayor of Orange to give the false impression that the Mayor of Orange had approved Edwards’s reimbursement for the courses, when the Mayor of Orange had not done so.

Federal Tax Fraud

Edwards also caused a false 2015 federal tax return to be filed with the IRS. From January 2016 to April 15, 2016, Edwards conspired with his tax return preparer, Zenobia Williams, to defraud the United States and the IRS by claiming bogus labor expenses of $27,055 for his business, Natural Care Municipal Cleaning Services LLC (Natural Care), on that tax return. In addition to falsifying business expenses, Edwards also underreported Natural Care’s income. He reported $40,000 in gross receipts, when Natural Care actually received approximately $52,000 in payments from a New Jersey law firm and approximately $32,500 in payments from a local Board of Education. Edwards also did not report the ill-gotten gains that he obtained in 2015 in connection with the Saturday Literacy Program, the Redevelopment Project, and the YWCA Project.

The charges carry the following maximum potential penalties:

Offenses Charged Maximum Term of Imprisonment Maximum Fine
False statement concerning a mortgage 30 years $1,000,000
Conspiracy to commit wire fraud or wire fraud and mail fraud 20 years $250,000
Wire fraud 20 years $250,000
Mail fraud 20 years $250,000
Theft from a federally-funded local government 10 years $250,000
Bribery in connection with the business of a federally funded local government 10 years $250,000
Conspiracy to defraud the United States and the IRS Five years $250,000
Subscribing to a false tax return Three years $250,000
     

On January 13, 2020, Ore entered a guilty plea to an information charging offenses related to the Saturday Literacy Program, the Redevelopment Project, and the YWCA Project. On February 13, 2020, Timur Davis, the former Executive Director of the Orange Library, entered a guilty plea to an information charging an offense related to the Saturday Literacy Program and another HUD-funded program to replace an HVAC/Chiller unit at the Library. On December 30, 2019, Williams entered a guilty plea to conspiring to defraud the United States and the IRS.

Edwards was charged with 14 counts of wire fraud, two counts of bribery in connection with the business of a federally funded local government, two counts of theft from a federally funded local government, two counts of mail fraud, two counts of false statements concerning a mortgage, one count of bribery in connection with the business of a federally funded local government and organization, one count of theft from a federally funded local government and organization, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and the IRS, and one count of filing a false tax return. A date for Edwards’ arraignment has not yet been scheduled.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito made the announcement.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Joe Denahan in Newark; special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi; and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez with the investigation leading to the charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cari Fais and J Fortier Imbert of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division.

The charges and allegations in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Blanca A. Medina, 54, Manalapan, New Jersey, pleaded guilty today, admitting her role in a scheme to defraud a financial institution of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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

From 2015 to 2018, Medina conspired with others to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans from “Mortgage Lender A” in Monmouth County to finance the purchase of properties by unqualified buyers. Applicants for mortgage loans are required to list their assets and income on their mortgage loan applications, and mortgage lenders rely on those applications when deciding whether to issue mortgage loans.

Medina, a former loan officer for Mortgage Lender A, admitted to participating in a conspiracy in which she knowingly caused completed mortgage loan applications that contained multiple misrepresentations of material facts regarding the buyers’ assets and income to be submitted to Mortgage Lender A. A conspirator provided Medina with false and fraudulent documents for potential borrowers including false and fraudulent lease agreements, bank statements, and a gift check and gift letter. Based on these lies, Mortgage Lender A issued mortgage loans to unqualified buyers, which caused Mortgage Lender A hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.

The conspiracy charge to which Medina pleaded guilty carries a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for October 20, 2020.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito made the announcement.

Medina was charged before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court to a one-count information charging her with conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Douglas Korneski in Newark, and Special Agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert Manchak, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Fayer of the Economic Crimes Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlie Divine of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General.

Jonathan Marmol, 41, Odessa, Florida has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison and Mordechai Boaziz, 67, Miami Beach, Flordia, to 90 days in federal prison for conspiracy to make false statements to financial institutions.

According to court documents, beginning around the summer of 2006, and continuing through August 2008, Boaziz and Marmol conspired with others to execute a scheme to influence the credit decisions of financial institutions in connection with the sale of condominium units at The Preserve at Temple Terrace, a 392-unit condominium complex located in Temple Terrace, Florida. Boaziz was a real estate developer converting The Preserve from an apartment complex into a condominium complex. Boaziz, the leader and organizer of the fraud scheme, hired Marmol to market the condominium units at the complex.

In order to recruit and entice otherwise unqualified buyers to purchase units at The Preserve, the conspirators offered to pay the prospective buyers’ down payments (“cash-to-close”). The conspirators then intentionally concealed the cash-to-close payments from the financial institutions that originated and funded the related mortgage loans.

In particular, the HUD-1 Settlement Statements submitted to the financial institutions falsely stated that the buyers brought their own cash-to-close funds to purchase the units, which influenced the financial institutions’ mortgage loan approval decisions. In reality, Boaziz funded the buyers’ cash-to-close and routed the payments through Marmol and others. Boaziz caused approximately $5.36 million in losses, and Marmol caused approximately $330,000 in losses to the victim financial institutions who financed the units at The Preserve.

Marmol and Boaziz had pleaded guilty to the offenses in November 2019. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Jonathan+Marmol

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor and Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.

 

Ronald J. McCord, 69, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was charged yesterday with defrauding two locally-based banks, Fannie Mae, and others. The charges include bank fraud, money laundering, and making a false statement to a financial institution.

McCord was the former President of First Mortgage Company, LLC (“FMC”), an Oklahoma City, Oklahoma based mortgage lending and loan servicing company.  The Indictment alleges a broad range of fraudulent conduct spanning approximately three years.

McCord is charged in Counts 1 through 7 with defrauding Spirit Bank (“Spirit”) and Citizens State Bank (“Citizens”), two state-chartered financial institutions, as well as their respective residential mortgage subsidiaries, American Southwest Mortgage Corporation (“Mortgage Corp.”) and American Southwest Mortgage Funding Corporation (“Funding Corp.”).  According to the Indictment, in approximately June 2016, an independent audit discovered that McCord had sold more than $14,100,000.00 in Spirit/Mortgage Corp., and Citizens/Funding Corp., loans “out of trust” by failing to repay Spirit/Mortgage Corp., when certain Spirit/Mortgage Corp., initiated loans were refinanced or otherwise paid off.  At the time of this discovery, FMC carried outstanding balances of about $200,000,000.00 and $140,000,000.00 on the Spirit/Mortgage Corp. and Citizens/Funding Corp. lines of credit, respectively.

According to the Indictment, this discovery prompted further internal review.  An internal audit revealed that McCord had misappropriated additional Spirit/Mortgage Corp. and Citizens/Funding Corp. loans by: (1) using FMC’s warehouse line of credit with (i.e., obtaining mortgage loans from) Spirit/Mortgage Corp. or Citizens/Funding Corp., selling those Spirit/Mortgage Corp. or Citizens/Funding Corp. loans to Fannie Mae, then resubmitting the loan documents to Spirit/Mortgage Corp. or Citizens/Funding Corp. to receive additional money from the Spirit/Mortgage Corp. or Citizens/Funding Corp. line of credit; (2) using FMC’s warehouse line of credit with Spirit/Mortgage Corp. or Citizens/Funding Corp. to refinance the resulting loans without repaying Spirit/Mortgage Corp. or Citizens/Funding Corp. the originally loaned funds; (3) using FMC’s Spirit/Mortgage Corp. or Citizens/Funding Corp. line of credit to fund mortgages to borrowers, receiving payments from those borrowers, but never repaying Spirit/Mortgage Corp. or Citizens/Funding Corp.; (4) obtaining funds from Spirit/Mortgage Corp. or Citizens/Funding Corp. for loans that never closed, then failing to return the funds to Spirit/Mortgage Corp. or Citizens/Funding Corp.; and (5) using FMC’s warehouse lines of credit with Spirit/Mortgage Corp. and Citizens/Funding Corp. to “double fund” loans by obtaining funds from both financial institutions to fund the same loans.

The Indictment alleges that McCord’s actions involved Spirit/Mortgage Corp. and Citizens/Funding Corp. loans that totaled approximately $40,000,000.00, in addition to the more than $14,100,000.00 in Spirit/Mortgage and Citizens/Funding Corp. loans that McCord had sold out of trust.

The Indictment further alleges that, upon learning of McCord’s conduct, Spirit/Mortgage Corp., and Citizens/Funding Corp., terminated future warehouse lending to FMC, and instituted new notification requirements that required McCord to assign FMC-funded mortgages to Spirit/Mortgage Corp. and Citizens/Funding Corp., to ensure that the title companies handling those mortgages sent payoffs directly to the banks.  Though McCord filed the assignments as required, his employees contacted the title companies handling the mortgages and directed payments to FMC, not Spirit/Mortgage Corp. and Citizens/Funding Corp.  McCord continued to collect loan payoffs without repaying Spirit/Mortgage Corp. and Citizens/Funding Corp.  He then signed releases on the assigned mortgages after receiving the payoffs, subjecting the properties to potential foreclosure should Spirit/Mortgage Corp. or Citizens/Funding Corp. try to collect payments on the mortgages, to which they held title.

According to Count 8 of the Indictment, Spirit/Mortgage Corp., and Citizens/Funding Corp.’s refusal to fund new FMC mortgages prompted McCord to seek out a new warehouse lender.  In early 2017, McCord began negotiating with CapLOC, LLC, a North Carolina based mortgage lending business, and offered to sell FMC’s mortgage lending business in exchange for quick funding from CapLOC.  In the course of those negotiations, McCord made false statements and representations to obtain CapLOC funds.  McCord then used the money to repay Spirit/Mortgage Corp. part of his outstanding $40,000,000.00 debt.

Finally, the Indictment alleges that, in 2017, FMC serviced approximately 12,000 loans worth a total of approximately $1,800,000,000.00 for the Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”).  Counts 9 through 24 of the Indictment allege that McCord defrauded Fannie Mae by diverting escrow monies intended to pay homeowners’ taxes, insurance, principal, and interest, to cover FMC’s operating expenses.  As a result, McCord bounced checks to more than sixty taxing authorities and borrowers throughout the Oklahoma City area and elsewhere missed making their tax payments.  The Indictment further alleges that McCord laundered the stolen escrow monies by using the funds to write himself checks, pay more than half the purchase price of his son’s $900,000.00 Oklahoma City home, and build a custom vacation home in Colorado.

With regard to the bank fraud and false statement to a financial institution charges in the Indictment, McCord faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000.00 on each count.  He also faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 .00 fine on to each of the money laundering counts. Furthermore, the Indictment seeks forfeiture from McCord in the amount of the proceeds of the fraudulent schemes and in the amount of the property involved in the offenses.

The announcement was made by Timothy J. Downing, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of the Inspector General, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Oklahoma City Field Office.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia E. Barry.

Reference is made to the Indictment and other public filings for further information.  An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  To download a photo of U.S. Attorney Downing, click here.