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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defense counsel: Jean Barrett Esq., Montclair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark Steven Diamond, 60, Chicago, Illinois, a mortgage loan originator with offices in Chicago and Calumet City, was indicted and arraigned on federal fraud charges for his alleged role in a scheme to bilk elderly homeowners out of millions of dollars.  According to the indictment, he engaged in a home repair and loan fraud scheme that targeted elderly homeowners and lenders. Diamond fraudulently caused lenders to make reverse-mortgage loans to homeowners who either did not sign up for the loans or did so unwittingly after Diamond intentionally misrepresented the terms, the indictment states. Diamond fraudulently pocketed the loan checks by causing title company representatives, including an unindicted co-schemer, to provide the checks to Diamond rather than the homeowners. The indictment seeks forfeiture of $7 million from Diamond.

Diamond pleaded not guilty at his arraignment to seven counts of wire fraud. U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow Jr. scheduled a status hearing for August 28, 2017, at 9:00 a.m.

According to the indictment, Diamond targeted his victims, who ranged in age from 62 to 97, based on the equity in their homes and their relative lack of financial sophistication. If a victim’s relative questioned Diamond on the need for a reverse mortgage, Diamond would schedule a time to visit the victim’s home when he knew the relative would not be there, the indictment states.

Also charged in the indictment is Cynthia Wallace, 47, Chicago, Illinois. Wallace solicited homeowners to have home repairs performed by Diamond, knowing that Diamond would not actually perform the work, the indictment states. Wallace, who used the aliases “Shree Box,” “Regina Johnson,” and “Sherry Rice,” also posed as a representative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fraudulently obtain money from victims, the indictment states.

Wallace has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of falsely pretending to be an employee of the United States.

The indictment was announced by Joel R. Levin, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Brad Geary, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General in Chicago; and Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Netols and Matthew Ebert.

MichaelMickey” Henschel, 68, Van Nuys, California was indicted on an 11-counts for his alleged role as the mastermind of a foreclosure-avoidance scam that targeted distressed homeowner.  He was arrested on federal charges that he orchestrated a bankruptcy fraud scheme that brought in more than $7 million from victims. Henschel was ordered detained pending trial.

According to the indictment unsealed after his arrest, Henschel owned a Van Nuys-based company he operated under several names, including Valueline. Henschel and several co-conspirators marketed illegal foreclosure- and eviction-delay services to homeowners who had defaulted on their mortgages and renters who were facing eviction. As part of the scheme, Henschel and the others allegedly convinced homeowners to sign fake grant deeds that purported to show the homeowners had conveyed an interest in their properties to fictional third parties.

Henschel and his co-conspirators allegedly filed bankruptcies in the names of fictional persons and entities to trigger the automatic stay provision of the Bankruptcy Code, which meant that foreclosure sales were stalled.

Henschel allegedly delayed evictions in a similar way, filing fraudulent documents in state eviction actions and sending similar documents to sheriff’s offices.

Henschel allegedly charged some homeowners large fees before agreeing to clear title to their properties, in addition to the monthly fees paid for the illegal services. During the course of the scheme, from October 2010 through July 2013, Henschel and his co-conspirators collected more than $7 million, according to the indictment.

The indictment charges Henschel with one count of conspiracy, eight counts of bankruptcy fraud and two counts of wire fraud.

Following his arrest, Henschel was arraigned on the indictment. He entered a not guilty plea, and a trial was scheduled for August 8, 2017.

If he is convicted of the charges in the indictment, Henschel would face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for each of the conspiracy bankruptcy fraud counts. The two wire fraud counts carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years.

The case against Henschel is the result of an investigation by the FBI and FHFA-OIG, which received assistance from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and the United States Trustee’s Office for the Central District of California.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kerry L. Quinn of the Major Frauds Section.

Sergey Shchirskiy, 41, Sacramento, California, was sentenced to seven years and 10 months in prison for his participation in two mortgage fraud schemes and one tax fraud scheme.

According to court documents, Shchirskiy pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in each of the two mortgage fraud cases, as well as one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of aggravated identity theft in the third tax fraud case.

According to the plea agreement, Shchirskiy was a loan processor in one mortgage fraud scheme (2:11-cr-514). Between April 2007 and November 2007, the co-conspirators used straw buyers to buy properties and then take out Home Equity Lines of Credit on the houses using fraudulent documents and statements. Shchirskiy helped to create the fraudulent supporting documents. All of the properties were foreclosed on, resulting in at least $1.5 million in losses to lenders.

According to the plea agreement in the second mortgage fraud scheme (2:12-cr-060), in April 2007, Shchirskiy recruited straw buyers to purchase a houses based on fraudulent loan applications. The applications gave false information about the buyer’s employment, income, assets, and intention to occupy the properties. The properties were foreclosed upon and resulted in a loss of more than $1.2 million to lenders.

According to the plea agreement in the tax fraud scheme (2:14-cr-198), between March 2011 and April 2011, Shchirskiy conspired with others to obtain false tax refunds by submitting fraudulent claims using the identities of various individuals, at least eight of which were stolen. Shchirskiy claimed Earned Income Tax Credit based on false claims of employment from California’s In-Home Supportive Services program. Shchirskiy and his co-conspirators made approximately 80 attempts to file fraudulent tax returns, attempting to receive $661,286 in fraudulent returns from the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS ultimately issued approximately $88,728 in fraudulent refunds.

U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced the sentenced and U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley presided.  The cases were the product of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Heiko Coppola and Michele Beckwith prosecuted the cases.

Christina Renee Caveny, 37, Dallas, Texas pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.  Bruce Kevin Hawkins, 52, Desoto, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud.

Caveny faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine while Hawkins faces a maximum statutory penalty of twenty years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution could also be ordered. Caveny will remain on bond pending sentencing, which is set for September 18, 2017.  Hawkins has been in custody since the time of his arrest in January 2017. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

A federal grand jury in Dallas returned an indictment in December 2016 charging Caveny, Hawkins, and two others with felony offenses stemming from a “foreclosure rescue scheme” they ran from approximately February 2012 through January 2013. Mark Demetri Stein, 36, of Carrollton, Texas, and Richard Bruce Stevens, 51, of San Antonio, Texas, are scheduled to begin trial on August 28, 2017.

According to documents filed in the case, Stein operated Real Estate Solutions, Stevens used Texas Real Estate Services, and Hawkins formed ERealty Mortgage Group, LLC, as foreclosure rescue companies. The conspirators used third parties to contact homeowners and offer them an opportunity to get out of their present home loans and receive a new home loan with a reduced interest payment and reduced monthly payment. Hawkins and other conspirators falsely represented to homeowners that they had “investors” standing by who were ready to quickly purchase the homeowner’s present loan from the lender holding the current mortgage. They also falsely represented that they would use investors to purchase the homeowner’s loan from the original lender at a greatly reduced price through a “short sale” process.

Furthermore, the conspirators falsely represented to the homeowners that the homeowners had the legal authority to transfer their homeowner’s deed to the defendants.

As part of the scheme, the conspirators fraudulently required homeowners to start making all future loan payments to them based on fraudulent so-called “loans,” and they also told homeowners to ignore late payment notices sent by lenders. As part of the scheme, the conspirators conducted a fraudulent “closing” for each homeowner where they caused the homeowner to pay them a large down payment on the new “loan,” and they also had the homeowner sign fraudulent documents, such as a promissory note, deed of trust, special warranty deed, and/or a so-called “land trust.”

Further, according to plea documents, the conspirators falsely represented to homeowners that the conspirators could “sell” their property back to the homeowner with a new loan, when the conspirators well knew they did not legally own the property. The conspirators also told homeowners to ignore notices of nonpayment from their present lender as they continued to unlawfully collect monthly so called “mortgage payments” from homeowners. In fact, conspirators instructed several homeowners to file for bankruptcy but to not follow up with the bankruptcy process as an additional means to delay foreclosure and conceal the conspirators’ criminal conduct. Conspirators concealed that all down payment and monthly mortgage payments fraudulently collected from homeowners was spent for their own personal benefit.

The defendants recruited at least 70 distressed and vulnerable homeowners who were facing the imminent threat of foreclosure on their homes and fraudulently collected a total of at least $242,000 from them.

This case is one of several felony prosecutions of bankruptcy-related crimes prosecuted as a result of the Bankruptcy Fraud Initiative in the Northern District of Texas. Since May 2013, a total of 26 defendants have been charged as part of that initiative. To date, 20 defendants have been convicted, one resulted in a mistrial, and five are pending trial.

U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas announced the pleas..The Dallas FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Jarvis is in charge of the prosecution.

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.