Archives For Rachel Dollar

Jason Alain Wu and Michael Andrew Kergosien were indicted in the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, on August 28, 2019 and charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud HUD and five counts of mail fraud, aiding and abetting.

According to the indictment:

Wu was the owner of American Home Free Mortgage, LLC (“AHFM”), a company that assisted homebuyers with obtaining financing, including interim financing, to construct and purchase a manufactured home.  Kergosien was employed by AHFM as a loan officer, director of sales, and director of operations.  MK Financial Services, LLC (“MK Financial”) and 1X Funding, LLC (“1X Funding”) were shell “third party companies” set up at the direction of Wu or Kergosien to receive fraudulent construction management fees as a means to recoup AHFM’s costs associated with interim financing without disclosing the true nature of the fees to the borrowers or HUD or obtaining the borrower’s agreement to pay the fees. Under HUD’s Construction to Permanent Loan Program, lenders who provide interim financing during the construction of a home are prohibited from charging a borrower additional fees unless the borrower signs a separate agreement specifically agreeing to pay the fees.

In or about November 2010 through at least September 2016, Wu and Kergosien caused AHFM employees to submit false invoices to title companies, on behalf of MK Financial and 1X Funding, that fraudulently charged a “construction management fee” and that concealed that the true purpose of the fee was to pay for undisclosed AHFM costs, including warehouse line fees on construction loans.  The MK Financial invoices stated “[m]ake all checks payable to MK Construction” which falsely represented the funds would be used for construction related costs. They also caused false entries on the HUD-1’s making it appear that the housing manufacturer was paying the construction management fee outside of the closing when the fee was actually included in the borrower’s purchase price and ultimately rolled into the loan. These invoices and false statements were concealed from HUD and the borrowers.

Between July 6, 2011 and September 10, 2014, Kergosien and Wu caused title companies to issue checks to MK Financial/MK Construction resulting in fraudulent payments of approximately $1,117,581 on approximately 126 FHA insured loans for over $12M; and, between July 15, 2014 and September 10, 2015, to issue checks to 1X Funding, LLC resulting in fraudulent payments of approximately $1,062,416 on approximately 99 FHA insured loans for at least $3.8M.

On August 10, 2015, Housing Wire reported that HUD’s Mortgage Review Board had settled allegations that American Home Free Mortgage had artificially increased mortgage costs by an average of $12,000 per loan through illegitimate fees paid to a company owned and operated by its sales manager.  In that settlement, AHFM did not admit fault or liability but agreed to pay a civil money penalty of $169,419 along with the permanent withdrawal of its FHA approval.

Yelp’s page for American Home Free Mortgage reflects that the company is closed. It received only one review – 5 stars.

Brannon Rue, real estate agent, 47, Oviedo, Florida, pleaded guilty to making a false statement to a financial institution. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to the plea agreement, Rue executed a scheme to influence financial institutions to approve short sales of real estate at a loss by making false statements on various documents. In furtherance of his scheme, Rue formed and controlled Hatley Partners, which he used to mask his role as the true purchaser of short-sale properties and to profit from the subsequent sale of the properties. Continue Reading…

Gary P. DeCicco, 59, Nahant, Massachusetts, and Pamela M. Avedisian, 54, Nahant, Massachusetts, were charged in an indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud in connection with the “short sale” of a house in Nahant, Massachusetts. DeCicco was also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, one count of bank fraud, four counts of wire fraud and attempted wire fraud, and six counts of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions.

DeCicco has been in federal custody since he was charged in March 2017 with attempted extortion in connection with arranging and paying for a local business owner to be assaulted. DeCicco and Avedisian made an initial appearance in federal court in Boston and will be arraigned on Tuesday, January 16, 2018.

The indictment alleges that Avedisian owned a property in Nahant that was subject to a mortgage in excess of $1 million.  In October 2015, DeCicco and Avedisian allegedly conspired to defraud the mortgage holder by proposing the sale of the property for significantly less than the outstanding mortgage, in what is commonly referred to as a “short sale.”  By their very nature, short sales are intended to be arms-length transactions in which the buyers and sellers are unrelated and act independently, allowing sellers to cede their ownership of the property in exchange for the short-selling bank’s agreement to release them from their unpaid mortgage debt.  In order to get approval for the sale, DeCicco and Avedisian concealed their long-term romantic and business relationships from the loan servicing company and falsely represented that Avedisian could no longer make payments towards the mortgage on the property.  In fact, just two months before the “short sale” closed, Avedisian purportedly received $3.5 million from the sale of another asset to DeCicco.

The indictment also alleges that from November 2015 to September 2016, DeCicco and a co-conspirator falsified rent rolls and prepared fake leases, which they then provided to financial institutions in support of their applications for a $5.5 million loan secured by a commercial building in Peabody.  The indictment further alleges that between September 2016 and January 2017, DeCicco committed unlawful monetary transactions with the proceeds of the bank fraud scheme, and between February and December 2016, DeCicco engaged in a scheme to defraud multiple insurance companies using fake invoices and other documents to support his claims.

The charges of wire fraud and conspiracy, as well as bank fraud and conspiracy, provides for a sentence of no greater than 30 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.  The charges of wire fraud and attempted wire fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.  The charge of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions provides for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Joel P. Garland, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston, made the announcement today.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristina E. Barclay of Lelling’s Public Corruption and Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting the case.

 

Abolghasseni “Abe” Alizadeh, 59, Granite Bay, California, pleaded guilty  to wire fraud, bank fraud and making false statements to a federally insured financial institution.

According to court documents, Alizadeh, a Sacramento-area commercial real estate developer, restaurateur and owner of Kobra Properties, came up with a scheme to fraudulently purchase land that he planned to develop. Banks usually loan up to 60–65 percent of the loan-to-value ratio (LTV) on undeveloped commercial property. (LTV ratio is the comparison between the amount of the loan and the value of the property.) To circumvent the banks and fraudulently get a higher level of financing, Alizadeh submitted altered purchase contracts to the banks that greatly inflated the purported purchase price. The banks, which competed for Alizadeh’s business, were unaware that the purchase prices were inflated and sometimes loaned well in excess of the loan-to-value ratio. By concealing the true purchase price from the banks, Alizadeh received substantial amounts of cash, sometimes millions of dollars, at the close of escrow and avoided making the full down payment or, in some instances, any down payment.

Alizadeh was assisted in this scheme by co-defendant Mary Sue Weaver, 64, currently of Scottsdale, Arizona and formerly of Lincoln, California, who was employed at a local title company. According to the plea agreement, Alizadeh would write checks for the down payment, but because he lacked funds to cover the checks, he would call Weaver and ask her to delay depositing the checks until after escrow closed. Once escrow closed, Weaver disbursed funds from the title company’s escrow trust account to Kobra Properties. Kobra Properties then used those funds to cover its down payment and other costs. In this way, it appeared as though Alizadeh was making a substantial down payment when in fact he was not.

On April 29, 2005, Alizadeh submitted a fraudulent purchase contract to Central Pacific Bank, which induced the bank to lend him nearly $4 million for the purchase of 10.3 acres of property. This loan represented over 96 percent loan-to-value ratio. Similarly, on October 21, 2005, Alizadeh received over $22 million in funding and loans to purchase the Turtle Island property, when in actuality, the original purchase price was $10 million. In March 2006, Alizadeh also falsely claimed to Bank of Sacramento that he was paying $36 per square foot for a piece of property where he intended to build a TGI Friday’s restaurant. In reality, Alizadeh was paying only $21 per square foot. This resulted in a $650,000 inflation of the true purchase price. Alizadeh’s entire scheme, involving no fewer than six properties in the Sacramento area, resulted in a loss to various financial institutions of over $22 million.

Alizadeh is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. on March 30, 2018. Co-defendant Weaver pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of bank fraud on December 15, 2017, and is scheduled for sentencing on March 23, 2018. Alizadeh and Weaver face a maximum statutory penalty of thirty years in prison on each count and a $1 million fine.

U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced the plea. The case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. Anderson and Heiko P. Coppola are prosecuting the case.

Sergio Roman Barrientos, 64, Poway, California pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution and bank fraud.

According to court documents, from about September 2004 through February 2008, Barrientos and co-conspirators Zalathiel Aguila and Omar Anabo operated an entity named Capital Access LLC, in Vallejo, California. They preyed on homeowners nearing foreclosure, convinced them to sign away title in their homes, spent any equity those homeowners had saved, and used straw buyers to defraud federally insured financial institutions out of millions of dollars in home loans obtained under false pretenses. The equity stripped from the distressed homeowners’ properties was then used for operational expenses of the scheme and personal expenses of Barrientos and his coconspirators. Vulnerable homeowners across California lost their homes and savings as a result of the scheme, and lenders lost an estimated $10.47 million from the fraud.

Co-defendant Zalathiel Aguila remains out of custody awaiting trial. Omar Anabo, charged elsewhere, is set for sentencing on April 27.

Barrientos is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. on April 6, 2018. Barrientos faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott. The case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew M. Yelovich and Todd A. Pickles are prosecuting the case.

Michael Paul Paquette, 34, San Juan Capistrano, California; Allan Jessie Chance, 34, Temecula, California; and Dennis Edward Lake, 59, Costa Mesa, California, were indicted on federal mail fraud charges that allege they solicited homeowners on the verge of foreclosure with bogus promises of loan modifications with interest rates as low as 2 percent.

The three men were arrested pursuant to an eight-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on December 20, 2017

Paquette, Chance and Lake were arraigned on the indictment in United States District Court, where they all entered not guilty pleas and were ordered to stand trial on March 6, 2018. All three defendants were released on $15,000 bonds.

According to the indictment, Paquette and Chance operated under aliases and told distressed homeowners that they worked for the Laguna Hills-based HAMP Services – which sounded similar to the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), a legitimate government program which permanently reduced mortgage payments to affordable levels for qualifying buyers.

Paquette and Chance told victims that they were approved for a government-affiliated loan modification, but they needed to make three “trial payments” before the loan would be modified, according to the indictment. They also falsely told the victims that their money would be held in a trust or escrow account. Chance falsely claimed that he had experience in getting home loans modified because he had worked at Bank of America.

After victims began making “trial payments,” their files were referred to Lake, who ran a Newport Beach-based business called JD United. The indictment alleges that Lake and his employees told victims that they were working on loan modifications, furthering hope that the loan modifications promised by Paquette and Chance were coming and that there was no need to contact law enforcement about the “trial payments” that had been paid.

When being pitched on the loan modification service, the victims were never told that $800 of the “trial payments” went to JD United, and that Paquette and Chance received commission payments taken directly from the accounts where the “trial payments” were deposited. The indictment further alleges that none of the victim money went to the lenders or a government agency for a loan modification.

Investigators believe that over 500 victims nationwide paid at least $2.5 million dollars to the defendants and others in “trial payments.”

The scheme allegedly ran from the beginning of 2014 through April 2015.  Paquette and others originally started soliciting victims claiming that they worked for Hope Services. After victims made many complaints about Hope Services, new victims were solicited using the name HAMP Services starting in late 2014.

Two other defendants involved in the scheme have pleaded guilty to federal charges and are pending sentencing.

Paquette, Chance, and Lake are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Additionally, Paquette is charged in three substantive mail fraud counts, Chance in four mail fraud counts, and Lake in six mail fraud counts. If they were to be convicted, each defendant would face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for each count.

The case against Paquette, Chance and Lake is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP). The Federal Trade Commission provided substantial assistance.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vibhav Mittal of the Santa Ana Branch Office.

James Nassida, IV, 50, West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, was sentenced in federal court to 78 months of incarceration on his conviction of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud.

According to information presented to the court, Nassida owned and operated a mortgage broker business called Century III Home Equity (Century III), which assisted borrowers in obtaining loans collateralized by real estate. At the time of the events at issue, which was between 2002 and 2008, Century III was one of the largest mortgage broker businesses in the Western District of Pennsylvania, and during the course of that timeframe brokered hundreds of millions of dollars worth of loans using more than a dozen different lenders. Many of those loans, however, involved one or more aspects of fraud.

Some of the aspect of the fraud included the following:

  • Appraisals that fraudulently inflated the true value of the properties;
  • Settlement statements that falsely reflected that the borrowers made substantial payments associated with the purchases of real estate;
  • Settlement statements that failed to disclose secondary financing;
  • Settlement statements that failed to include cash payments charged by Century III and paid by the borrowers;
  • Settlement statements and closing documents that were backdated to reflect that the settlements had occurred on a date prior to the actual settlement date; and
  • Various loan documents, including loan approval forms, good faith estimates, and underwriting transmittal forms, that failed to disclose secondary financing and falsely represented the combined loan to value ratio

The fraud also involved misrepresentations to some of the borrowers to induce them to enter into the transactions, including concealing the fees Century III received from lenders for the borrowers’ transactions and the impact of those fees on the borrowers’ interest rates; and concealing the nature of the mortgage products, including that some of the mortgage products could negatively amortize. Lastly, the fraud also involved Nassida’s receipt of kickbacks from the settlement company that he failed to disclose to the borrowers and lenders, as required.

Nassida also submitted multiple fraudulent documents associated with loans in which he served as a loan officer, but also that the loan officers working under his direction regularly submitted false information to lenders and borrowers. In addition, Nassida caused the submission of fake documents to the lender in connection with his purchase of a $300,000 vacation home near Seven Springs, including the following: (1) a settlement statement that overstated the sales price; (2) a loan application that falsely stated his income and assets; and (3) fake statements from an investment company that falsely verified that he had more than $600,000 in investments when he really had about $15,000. In the loan application, James Nassida reported that he earned approximately $980,000 in 2006, but he did not even file his tax returns in 2006, and his reported taxable income in 2004 and 2005 was not even close to that figure.

This case was a breeding ground for many of the other investigations led by the Western Pennsylvania Mortgage Fraud Task Force,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Johnson. “Mortgage fraud cases are a priority for the FBI because mortgage lending and the housing market have such a significant effect on the overall economy. At the time of this case, James Nassida was living a fancy lifestyle, in a million dollar home, taking money from victims who put their trust in him. That is why today’s sentencing is significant. Since the task force formation in February, 2008, more than 100 people were charged and more than a half billion dollars in fraudulent loans were uncovered,” added SAC Johnson.

United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced the sentence.  Assistant United States Attorneys Brendan T. Conway and Cindy Chung prosecuted this case on behalf of the government. Senior United States District Judge Donetta Ambrose imposed the sentence.

United States Attorney Brady commended the Mortgage Fraud Task Force for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Nassida. The Mortgage Fraud Task Force is comprised of investigators from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and others involved in the mortgage industry. Federal law enforcement agencies participating in the Mortgage Task Force include the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations; the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; the United States Postal Inspection Service; and the United States Secret Service. Other Mortgage Fraud Task Force members include the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office; the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office; the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Bureau of Consumer Protection; the Pennsylvania Department of Banking; the Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation; and the United States Trustee’s Office.

Bobbi A. Constantine, formerly known as Robert Bove, 48, Albany, New York, was sentenced  to 37 months in prison, and 3 years of supervised release, following her November 2017 guilty plea to wire fraud. United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino also ordered Constantine to pay restitution of $72,589.96 and forfeit $43,640.72.

From October 2014 through July 2016, Constantine, then known as Robert Bove, obtained mortgages and automobile lease financing from lenders under the false pretense that she was the beneficiary of a trust containing more than $12 million of the assets of a fictitious, deceased aunt.

Constantine used fictitious trust documents, which bore a forged notary seal, to dupe an attorney into generating a letter stating that that she was the beneficiary of a trust generating annual income of more than $50,000.  Constantine also impersonated a fictitious administrative trustee for the trust.  On the basis of the fraudulent trust documents and the attorney’s letter, Constantine obtained lease financing for a new Toyota RAV4 and a new Jeep Renegade, and obtained mortgages for her purchase of a $200,000 home in Albany, New York and a $131,000 condominium in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

In August 2017, Constantine was sentenced in another federal criminal case, for making false statements in connection with her May 2016 application for employment with the United States Postal Service in Troy, New York.  Constantine, who has more than 20 prior convictions including convictions for fraud, falsely stated in her employment application that she had never been convicted of a crime.

Constantine has been in federal custody since September 13, 2016.  She received a sentence of time served on the false statements conviction.

The announcement was made by Acting United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and Acting Inspector in Charge Raymond Moss, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Boston Division.

This case was investigated by the USPIS, the New York State Police, the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, and the Bethlehem Police Department, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey C. Coffman.

A man accused in a nationwide mortgage scheme has been indicted, along with his mother, his sister and her husband.MOREAdditional LinksPoll The News 4 I-Team has been tracking the trail of paperwork havoc in the wake of Leighton Ward, a man accused of being a sovereign citizen who ensnared people in a scheme to convince them that their mortgages were fraudulent and they should pay him to help get out of their signed agreements.

Source: Man, mother, sister, brother-in-law all indicted in alleged mort – Arizona’s Family

Ana Maritza Gomez, 45, Hyattsville, Maryland, was sentenced to 30 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud arising from a scheme to defraud victims through a foreclosure rescue scam.  United States District Judge Roger W. Titus also ordered Gomez to pay $205,280.25 in restitution.

Two co-defendants, Rene De Jesus De Leon, 49, Silver Spring, Maryland, and Pedrina Rodriguez Bonilla, 39, 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. 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 Rene De Leon is scheduled for December 14, 2017 at 10 a.m. and Pedrina Bonilla is scheduled for sentencing on December 13, 2017 at 9:00 a.m.

The sentence 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 III 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, 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 prosecuted the case.