Joel Martinez, 41, Phoenix, Arizona, has been charged in a 43 count indictment involving nine other individuals in connection with a mortgage fraud scam. The charges include conspiracy, wire fraud, false statements, false representation of Social Security number, and aggravated identity theft. Martinez was ordered detained on June 21, 2012, pending trial. The other nine individuals charged in the indictment are:
Julio Cesar Esquivel Reyes, 38; Estefana Salazar Olivares, 38, wife of Esquivel Reyes; Claudia Salazar Olivares, 31, sister-in-law of Esquivel Reyes; Martha Elena Gonzalez, 39, sister-in-law of Esquivel Reyes; Andres M. Esquivel, 64, father of Esquivel Reyes; Evangelina Gardner, 49, girlfriend of Esquivel Reyes‘s father; Solomon Moses Worden, 36; Edgar Lira, 40; and Luis Antonio Maldonado Tovar, 48, pastor of Grupo Amistad Church, Phoenix, Arizona.
The indictment alleges that between June of 2001 and May of 2012, the defendants purchased a number of properties throughout the Valley, with Esquivel Reyes and Evangelina Gardner acting as real estate agents for a number of the transactions and Estefana Olivares, Martha Gonzalez, and Claudia Olivares processing many of the loans. The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to:
Obtain mortgage loans by providing false information to lenders; Use false information to refinance the fraudulently obtained mortgage loans and receive “cash back” prior to defaulting on the loans; Obtain commissions from the sale of properties by and between conspirators; and Sell fraudulently obtained properties to other members of the conspiracy for drastically reduced prices through short sales;
Convictions for conspiracy and false representation of a Social Security number each carry a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. Convictions for wire fraud affecting a financial institution and false statements to a lending institution each carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine, or both. A conviction for aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory penalty of 2 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. In determining an actual sentence, U.S. District Chief Judge Roslyn O. Silver will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
An indictment is simply a method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations in Phoenix and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. The prosecution is being handled by Jennifer Levinson, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.