3 Indicted for Straw Buyer Scams Involving 13 Properties

Allison Tussey —  May 26, 2011 — Leave a comment

A federal grand jury returned a 13 count indictment against a loan officer and a loan processor, as well as a former Rhode Island attorney currently involved in the real estate industry.  The Defendants include: 

Juan Carlos Hernandez, 41, West Warwick, Rhode Island, a loan officer with National City Mortgage Company;

Miguel Valerio, 51, Providence, Rhode Island, a loan processor with National City Mortgage Company; and

James D. Levitt, 65, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, a former attorney who controlled two companies formed for the purpose of engaging in real estate transactions.

The properties are located in Cranston, Central Falls, Coventry, Pawtucket and Providence, Rhode Island.

In addition, Levitt is named in a separate eight count indictment alleging three counts of bank fraud, three counts of wire fraud and two counts of tax fraud in connection with mortgage transactions in Providence separate from the conspiracies outlined in the indictment naming Levitt, Juan Carlos Hernandez and Miguel Valerio.

The indictments allege that Juan Carlos Hernandez and Miguel Valerio conspired to recruit and pay “straw purchasers” to purchase properties they would not normally qualify to purchase, with the intent of taking control of the properties to collect rent on and to sell within a short period of time, and divide the profits among them. The “straw-borrowers,” were paid various fees and were regularly advised by the defendants that they would not be responsible for the mortgages for which they were applying.

In addition, the indictment alleges that Hernandez, Valerio, and Levitt conspired to obtain “straw purchasers” to apply for and obtain mortgages on four properties in which the three had a financial interest.

A separate indictment alleges that James Levitt schemed to commit mail and wire fraud by obtaining mortgages on three properties which he expected to control, two of which were obtained in the name of an associate based on false and fraudulent information.


United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha announced the indictments.


The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Luis M. Matos.

The matters were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations.

An indictment is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.



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Allison Tussey

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