Bryan Joseph Lenton, 33, Oakdale, Minnesota, was sentenced for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme that caused losses to lenders exceeding $7 million.
On May 2, 2013, United States District Court Judge David S. Doty sentenced the defendant to three years of probation on one count of conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud through interstate wire. Lenton was indicted, along with two others, on December 7, 2010, and pleaded guilty on March 8, 2011. He cooperated with authorities in the prosecution of his co-defendant, John Anthony Spencer, 33, Albertville, Minnesota, and in the investigation and cooperation of James Hoffman, another mortgage fraud defendant currently serving a 78-month sentence.
In his plea agreement, Lenton, a real estate appraiser, admitted he provided appraisals for properties that falsely inflated market values in order to create a pool of funds to be split among him, his co-defendants, and straw buyers.
The scam, orchestrated by Spencer, involved brokering fraudulent loans that were used by recruited purchasers to buy residential real estate at inflated prices. The transactions generated proceeds that greatly exceeded what the sellers were content to accept as full payment for their properties. The excess money was split up among the buyers Spencer recruited as well as Spencer himself and accomplices he solicited in an effort to bring the transactions to fruition.
The properties included six single-family homes in north Minneapolis, five residential condominium units located on Fisk Avenue, St. Paul, four condo units located on Dayton Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota, a home in Albertville, Minnesota, and two investment properties located in north Minneapolis.
Spencer, a mortgage broker at Minnesota One Mortgage, agreed to assist the owner of a five-plex condominium unit on Fisk Street, St. Paul to sell those units. To that end, Spencer recruited Lenton to appraise each of the units at substantially more than the owner of the units was willing to accept as full payment for them. Spencer then recruited straw buyers to purchase the units with loan proceeds obtained via fraudulent loan applications prepared by Spencer and Patrick Arthur Dols, 40, Minneapolis, Minnesota, another mortgage broker.
On October 31, 2011, Spencer was sentenced to 125 months in prison on one count of conspiracy, ten counts of wire fraud, one count of bank fraud, and one count of money laundering. He was convicted on June 2, 2011, after a three-week jury trial.
On November 29, 2012, Dols was sentenced to one year and one day in prison on one count of conspiracy. He pleaded guilty on March 1, 2011. In his plea agreement, Dols admitted that his role in the conspiracy was to take fraudulently drafted loan applications in the names of various straw buyers and find lenders willing to make mortgage loans based on the false information he was providing.
This case was the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David J. MacLaughlin.