Archives For Stephanie Abbott

Casey David Crowther ,35, North Fort Myers, Florida has been charged in a superseding indictment with two counts of bank fraud, two counts of making a false statement to a lending institution, and three counts of illegal monetary transactions.

According to the superseding indictment, as part of his scheme, beginning in June of 2020, Crowther submitted false and fraudulent Uniform Residential Loan Applications (URLA) to a mortgage broker and mortgage lender, causing the lender to disburse approximately $640,381 in loan funds. Specifically, Crowther intentionally misrepresented his liquid assets in the URLAs and created false and fraudulent bank statements which purported to show he had more assets than he actually had.

If convicted, Crowther faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison on each bank fraud and false statement count, and up to 10 years’ imprisonment for each illegal monetary transaction count.

The indictment also notifies Crowther that the United States intends to forfeit a 2020 40-foot catamaran, real property in St. James City, Florida, and $2,098,700, which are alleged to be proceeds of the offenses; the real property is also subject to forfeiture because it was involved in the illegal monetary transaction.

A federal grand jury had previously indicted Crowther for COVID relief fraud on September 23, 2020. The superseding indictment contains additional counts charging Crowther with mortgage fraud.

A superseding indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Trent Reichling.

Dean Rossi, 55, Warrington, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to five years in prison, four years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $2.85 million in restitution and $1.38 million in forfeiture for devising and participating in schemes to defraud three financial institutions out of millions of dollars.

Rossi was convicted at trial in March 2018 on seven charges: one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud affecting a financial institution and bank fraud; one count of mail fraud affecting a financial institution; three counts of bank fraud; and two counts of loan fraud.

From at least December 2006 until about March 2012, Rossi and his co-conspirators participated in schemes to defraud Nova Bank, First Cornerstone Bank, and Leesport Bank, which later became VIST Financial Bank, out of more than $4.15 million in connection with multiple real estate closings for small residential properties in working class neighborhoods in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. In each scheme, the defendant conspired with others to obtain fraudulent mortgage loans and made misrepresentations regarding the disbursement of those funds and his income. The defendant also falsified numerous documents, including tax returns and HUD-1 settlement sheets. Although the banks were able to mitigate some of their fraud losses, the banks and their insurers still suffered losses exceeding $2.85 million. Rossi personally pocketed a total of $1.38 million.

United States Attorney William M. McSwain made the announcement.

The scope and duration of Rossi’s fraud are simply stunning,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “He stole millions of dollars from bank lenders and preyed upon residential neighborhoods – and then attempted to cover his tracks with lies. That sort of white collar crime deserves significant prison time, which is what Rossi has earned.”

“Dean Rossi lied on mortgage applications starting in 2006, his lies and greed helped to contribute to the financial meltdown in 2008,” observed Damon Wood, Inspector in Charge of the Philadelphia Division of the Postal Inspection Service.  “Over ten years later, after being found guilty at trial, he has finally been sentenced to five years in jail.  I want to thank the Postal Inspectors and the Assistant United States Attorneys who stayed with this case for nearly a decade.  The Postal Inspection Service has long history of investigating frauds schemes, and we will continue to lead and support investigations into fraud schemes that use the mail.

The case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mark Dubnoff and Elizabeth Ray.

Anthony T. Williams, 49, Pineville, Louisiana was sentenced today in federal court to 240 months’ imprisonment for wire fraud and mail fraud in connection with a fraudulent mortgage relief scheme.

Williams marketed a fraudulent mortgage debt reduction scheme to distressed homeowners, who were mostly non-native English speakers in the Filipino immigrant community in Hawaii. Williams created two companies, Mortgage Enterprise Investments (MEI) and Common Law Office of America (CLOA), neither of which was licensed to service or modify mortgages. Through MEI, Williams made conflicting promises to clients that he could eliminate their existing mortgage obligations to their lenders, or reduce their mortgage obligations by half. Through CLOA, Williams promised legal representation in mortgage-related litigation and foreclosure proceedings. To give himself the appearance of credibility, Williams told prospective clients he was a “private attorney general” and brandished an official-looking law enforcement badge and credentials, despite not having a law license or any affiliation with law enforcement.

Williams falsely promised victims that he could eliminate their existing home mortgage obligations by filing bogus documents with the Hawaii Bureau of Conveyances. These documents included new MEI mortgages and notes obligating homeowners to make monthly payments to MEI. Williams then advised homeowners to stop making their mortgage payments to their lenders and to pay him instead.

Between 2012 and 2015, Williams enlisted 112 victims in Hawaii into his MEI program and fraudulently obtained over $230,000 from his victims, without providing any legitimate services. Several victims testified at trial that they had relied upon Williams’s representations and went into foreclosure or bankruptcy. Two victims testified that they lost their homes as a result of Williams’s scheme.

For several years, Anthony Williams actively preyed upon distressed homeowners within the Filipino community here in the State of Hawaii. His scheme financially devastated his victims, forcing some into bankruptcy and homelessness. As a result of this prosecution, Williams’s scheme has come to an end and Williams will be incarcerated for 20 years. My office will continue to protect the most vulnerable members of our community,” said U.S. Attorney Price.

Williams knowingly targeted and preyed upon citizens of our Filipino community” said Eli Miranda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Honolulu Division. “He took advantage of this vulnerable and in need population, delivering empty promises. He drained their finances leaving many penniless. The FBI cannot, and will not stand by. We will continue to maximize our efforts with partner agencies to bring these perpetrators to justice and hold them accountable for their crimes.

A federal jury convicted Williams on March 3, 2020 of 32 counts of wire fraud and mail fraud after a four week trial.

In addition to a term of imprisonment, the Court also imposed three years of supervised release, and restitution. The Court’s sentence of imprisonment is to run consecutively to a fifteen-year sentence of imprisonment that another court had handed down earlier to Williams for similar fraudulent conduct in the State of Florida.

The investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth M. Sorenson and Gregg Paris Yates handled the prosecution.

 

Mohammed Shahbaz Khan, 45, Bourbonnais, Illinois was indicted for making false claims in connection with his receipt of money from the Hardest Hit Fund, a federal mortgage assistance initiative offered by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.

According to the indictment, the purpose of the Hardest Hit Fund was to help stabilize communities in states, like Indiana, that were “hardest hit” by the 2008 economic and housing market downturn.  The Hardest Hit Fund program in Indiana is administered by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.  In order to receive this mortgage assistance, an applicant was required to be an Indiana homeowner; own only one home; and reside in that home.

The indictment alleges that Khan knowingly submitted false statements about his residency in order to obtain Hardest Hit Fund mortgage assistance on an Indiana property, while living elsewhere.  Over 18-months, Khan allegedly received $29,926.46 in mortgage assistance, to which he was not entitled.

U.S. Attorney Kirsch made the announcement.

Today, an Illinois man was charged with defrauding a long-term federal economic stability program, intended to help people stay in their homes, knowing that he did not qualify,” said Christy Goldsmith Romero, Special Inspector General of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Program (SIGTARP).  “We commend the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana for standing with SIGTARP to combat fraud against homeownership preservation programs.

The United States Attorney’s Office emphasizes that an Indictment is merely an allegation and that all persons are presumed innocent until, and unless proven guilty in court.

If convicted, any specific sentence to be imposed will be determined by the Judge after a consideration of federal statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP).  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Molly Kelley.

 

 

Joseph A. Gonzalez, 46, Henderson, Nevada, pleaded guilty today for his role in a scheme to use bogus information and simultaneous loan applications at multiple banks – known as “shot-gunning” – to attempt to obtain home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).

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

From 2010 through 2018, Jorge Flores and Simon Curanaj, a real estate broker in the Bronx, New York who has previously pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing, ran a mortgage fraud scheme in which they applied for more than $9 million in HELOCs from banks on residential properties in New Jersey and New York.

Gonzalez and Flores used a property in Jersey City, New Jersey, as part of the scheme. Gonzalez had been allowed by the owner of the property to live there in exchange for management services, but neither he nor Flores owned the property. Gonzalez also recruited an individual with good credit to act as a straw buyer (Individual 1). Unbeknownst to the owner of the property, a “quitclaim” deed – which contains no warranties of title – was prepared transferring the property to Individual 1. The signatures on the deed were forged.

Gonzalez and Flores then applied for two HELOCs from multiple banks using the Jersey City, New Jersey property as collateral in Individual 1’s name. They concealed the fact that the property offered as collateral 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 contained false information concerning Individual 1’s income, which was stated to be higher than his actual income. At the time the applications were made, the value of the property was less than the amount of the HELOC loans for which Gonzalez and Flores applied.

The victim banks eventually issued loans to Individual 1 in excess of $500,000. After the victim banks funded the HELOCs and deposited money into Individual 1’s bank account, Individual 1 disbursed almost all of it to Gonzalez, Flores, and others. Gonzalez used $43,000 of the illicit proceeds to buy a luxury car. Individual 1 eventually defaulted on both HELOC loans.

The conspiracy to commit bank fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison, a fine of $1 million or twice the gross pecuniary gain to the defendants or twice the gross pecuniary loss to others, whichever is greater. Sentencing is scheduled for February, 10, 2021.

Gonzalez is the sixth person to plead guilty as part of the scheme.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito made the announcement.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert Manchak; and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, with the investigation leading to the guilty plea.

The government is represented by Senior Trial Counsel Jason S. Gould of the U.S. Attorney’s Health Care Fraud Unit in Newark and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin DiGregory of the FHFA, Office of the Inspector General.

 

Dana Q. Roush, 40, and her husband Michael “Bubba” Roush, 56, both of Greenville, South Carolina were sentenced to a total of seventeen years in federal prison and ordered to pay back more than $2.5 million after a jury found them guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and equity skimming.

Evidence presented at trial showed that Dana and Bubba Roush owned and operated Kingdom Connected Investments, LLC (“KCI”).  They marketed their company as a Christian organization and promised to create “win-win” situations for home sellers and buyers. They sought homeowners who often owed more on their home than the property was worth, and buyers who lacked good credit and thus could not obtain a conventional mortgage.

KCI promised to relieve the homeowner from the burdens of mortgage payments by “buying” the home and placing a new buyer in the home who would rent-to-own.  KCI promised to make all the sellers’ mortgage payments.  KCI misled sellers to believe that they would be immediately removed from the property’s title and that they were no longer responsible for the original loan.

KCI promised the buyers an easy road to homeownership.  In exchange for the down payment (typically ten percent of the purchase price), the buyers were told that they were renting-to-own and building up equity.  KCI further concealed from the buyers that a third party – the seller – had an existing mortgage on the property that KCI was responsible for paying.

Rather than using the down payments and rents received from the buyers to pay the sellers’ mortgage payments, Bubba and Dana Roush used the money for personal expenses and to expand their real estate business.

The sellers, many of whom believed they were off the title and note, received foreclosure notices.  They learned that KCI, despite having a renter in the home, had stopped paying on the mortgage.  Buyers often learned they had no real ownership interest when the home was purchased by a third-party at a foreclosure sale and the new owner started eviction proceedings.

Victims of the scheme suffered myriad injuries including loss of money, shattered dreams, and ruined credit.  Special Agent Matt Jacobson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) testified that KCI received $2.6 million from buyers and only paid $1.4 million in mortgage payments.  Approximately 130 properties were involved in the scam and Agent Jacobson testified that in only two instances did a buyer actually become a homeowner and a seller not face foreclosure and ruined credit.

Mrs. Roush was sentenced to more than eleven years, while her husband was sentenced to six and a half years.

United States Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr., made the announcement.

These defendants here stole more than money. They robbed their victims of the American dream,” said U.S. Attorney McCoy. “For so many South Carolinians, times are tough right now. That these two defendants exploited that difficulty to line their own pockets is reprehensible, and this office will not tolerate it. I appreciate the jury’s verdict and the sentence handed down by the judge. I am especially thankful for the hard work form our federal partners in this case.”

The fraud perpetrated by the defendants allowed them to steal millions of dollars from people who could not afford to lose any money,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jody Norris.  “The victims were robbed of their life savings, their homes, and the futures they had planned.  The Special Agents from the FBI and the investigators from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) who brought these defendants to justice, should be commended for their dedication and demonstration of our resolve to fully investigate these fraudulent schemes in South Carolina.

The core of our mission is to protect the Department of Housing and Urban Development from those that would seek to defraud its programs for the sole purpose of enriching themselves at the government’s expense,” said Wyatt Achord, Special Agent in Charge, HUD Office of Inspector General (OIG). “We remain committed toward working with the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue any individual who attempts to defraud the government.

United States District Judge Timothy M. Cain sentenced Mrs. Roush to 136 months in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision. Judge Cain sentenced Mr. Roush to 78 months in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision. There is no parole in the federal system. Judge Cain also ordered the defendants to pay $2,664,796.69 in restitution.

The case was investigated by the FBI and HUD OIG. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Watkins

 

Eric Hill, 50, Tyrone, Georgia (charged by Information); Robert Kelske, 52, Smyrna, Georgia; Fawziyyah Connor, 41, Tyrone, Georgia; Stephanie Hogan, 57, Norcross, Georgia; Jerod Little, 42, McDonough, Georgia; Renee Little, 33, McDonough, Georgia; Maurice Lawson, 36, Powder Springs, Georgia; Todd Taylor, 54,  Fairburn, Georgia; Paige McDaniel, 49, Stockbridge, Georgia; Donald Fontenot, 52, Locust Grove, Georgia (charged by Information); Anthony Richard, 44,  Locust Grove, Georgia; Cephus Chapman, 49, Warner Robins, Georgia, have been charged in a mortgage fraud scheme allegedly spanning more than four years and resulting in the approval of more than 100 mortgages based on fabricated documents and false information.

According to the indictment, and other information presented in court: The defendants participated in a scheme in which homebuyers and real estate agents submitted fraudulent loan applications to induce mortgage lenders to fund mortgages.  Listing agents Eric Hill and Robert Kelske represented a major nationwide homebuilder, and helped more than 100 homebuyers who were looking to buy a home, but who were unqualified to obtain a mortgage, commit fraud.  The agents instructed the homebuyers as to what type of assets they needed to claim to have in the bank, and what type of employment and income they needed to submit in their mortgage applications.

Hill and Kelske then coordinated with multiple document fabricators, including defendants Fawziyyah Connor and Stephanie Hogan, who altered the homebuyers’ bank statements to inflate the their assets and to create bank entries reflecting false direct deposits from an employer selected by the real estate agent.  The document fabricators also generated fake earnings statements that matched the direct deposit entries to make it appear that the homebuyer was employed, and earning income, from a fake employer.  Other participants in the scheme then acted as employment verifiers and responded to phone calls or emails from lenders to falsely verify the homebuyers’ employment.  Defendants Jerod Little, Renee Little, Maurice Lawson, Todd Taylor, Paige McDaniel and Donald Fontenot acted as employment verifiers.  Hill and Kelske coordinated the creation and submission of the false information so that the lies to the lenders were consistent.

In another aspect of the scheme, real estate agents Anthony Richard and Cephus Chapman falsely claimed to represent homebuyers as their selling agents in order to receive commissions from the home sales.  In reality, these real estate agents had never even met the homebuyers they claimed to represent.  To avoid detection, the agents often notified closing attorneys that they would not be available for the home closing, and sent wire instructions for the receipt of their commissions.  When these purported selling agents received their unearned commissions, they kicked back the majority of the commissions to Hill or Kelske for enabling them to be added to the deal, keeping a small share for their role in the scheme.

Many of the loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) resulting in claims being paid for mortgages that have gone through loan modification.

These defendants allegedly used their knowledge of the real estate lending process to manipulate the system for their own benefit,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.  “Mortgage fraudsters threaten the soundness of the real estate market in our community.  We will investigate and charge anyone who takes advantage of our mortgage lending system for their own personal gain.”

These charges represent the government’s commitment toward combating such alleged criminal activity,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “We will steadfastly protect American citizens and the real estate market from predators who drag down our economy by deceit to line their own pockets.”

What we have here is a group of mortgage industry professionals that have allegedly perpetrated a sophisticated mortgage fraud for profit scheme that was designed to enrich themselves at the expense of a federal housing program,” said Wyatt Achord, Special Agent in Charge, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “The efforts that brought forward these charges demonstrate that when law enforcement is made aware of such schemes, we will commit the necessary resources to make sure that fraudsters are brought to justice.”

As charged, the defendants engaged in a multiyear scheme to defraud Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG) will investigate and hold accountable those who seek to victimize these Government Sponsored Entities supervised and regulated by FHFA”, said FHFA-OIG Special Agent in-Charge Edwin Bonano.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment and informations only contain charges.  The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General, and Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Prout is prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern

Alagi Samba, 50, Bronx, New York, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud affecting a financial institution, was sentenced today to time served.

Between about June 2008 and February 2009, the defendant conspired with others to devise a scheme to commit mortgage fraud and obtain eight loans for unqualified borrowers for homes in the Bronx, New York.

As part of the scheme, Samba served as a realtor on behalf of co-conspirator Daniel Badu in the purchase of a property in the Bronx, New York. The defendant was aware that Badu was employed as a home health aide and did not have the income or assets to qualify for a mortgage loan in the amount of $574,543 to purchase the property. Samba obtained Badu’s personal identification information and business documents and provided them to another co-conspirator, a mortgage broker, knowing that the documents would be altered or falsely created to indicate that Badu was an ophthalmologist at his company Eagle Eyes. In addition, fraudulent paystubs and tax returns were submitted to support the loan application. Samba provided these false loan documents in order to secure a loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration. Based on that false application and supporting documentation, the loan was approved.

The defendant and his co-conspirators arranged for additional fraudulent loans to be approved, including another loan for Badu, and caused wire communications to be transmitted in interstate commerce for those loans. The defendant caused losses of approximately $547,000 affecting financial institutions in Buffalo and elsewhere.

Five co-defendants, including Daniel Badu, were previously convicted and sentenced.

Samba was also ordered to pay restitution totaling $790,350.40 to M&T Bank and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. made the announcement.

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin, Boston Division; the Department of Housing and Urban Development, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brad Geary; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia.

Eva Christine Rodriguez, 65, Laguna Hills, California, and Sergio Lorenzo Lawrence, 46, Laguna Niguel, California, were arrested and charged today with wire fraud offenses in connection with a fraudulent foreclosure rescue scheme that took in more than $5 million in prohibited advance fees from thousands of financially distressed homeowners..

According to the Complaint[1] unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

From approximately March 2014 through April 2018, Eva Christine Rodriguez and Sergio Lorenzo Rodriguez (the “Defendants”) owned and/or managed a series of mortgage modification companies through which they perpetrated a scheme to defraud and attempt to defraud financially distressed consumers who were facing or were at imminent risk of foreclosure through deceptive marketing practices.  Those companies were National Servicing Center, American Home Servicing Center, National Advocacy Center, National Advocacy Group, and Capital Home Advocacy Center (collectively, the “Companies”).  Among other ways, the Defendants charged desperate homeowners thousands of dollars in prohibited advance fees by tricking them into believing that they had been pre-approved by their lender or servicer for a mortgage modification; falsely represented prohibited advance fees to be closing costs or other non-prohibited costs; fraudulently claimed that the Companies achieved success rates of 95 percent or higher for mortgage modifications; and made empty promises of a no-risk money back guarantee.  As a result of their intentional misrepresentations, and misrepresentations that they encouraged their subordinates to make, the Defendants induced thousands of homeowners to pay an aggregate of more than $5 million in prohibited advance fees to the Companies, including a large number of consumers who were ultimately denied mortgage modifications or who received modification offers that were less favorable than they had been led to expect at the time they paid advance fees.

In February 2018, the Federal Trade Commission brought a civil lawsuit against Eva Christine Rodriguez and Sergio Lorenzo Rodriguez, among others, in federal court in Santa Ana, California.  That civil action resulted first in a temporary restraining order and then a permanent injunction barring the Defendants from marketing and selling all debt relief products and services.  As alleged in the Complaint, the Defendants flouted those judicial orders by having a relative create another mortgage modification company named 1st Premier Asset Solutions, which the Defendants operated using aliases and some of the same deceptive practices.

The Defendants will be presented in federal court in Santa Ana later today.

Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the United States Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”) made the announcement.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “As alleged, Eva Christine Rodriguez and Sergio Lorenzo Rodriguez preyed on vulnerable homeowners at risk of foreclosure by making false and misleading promises that they knew they would not or could not keep.  They allegedly continued to do so even after they were barred from the debt relief industry by a federal court in California.  They now face serious criminal charges.

USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett said:  “Loan Modification Scams are a cruel fraud targeting very desperate homeowners faced with losing their homes. While a loan modification may appear to be a lifeline, these scams often become a nightmare. This is allegedly what happened to victims who did business with Eva and Sergio Rodriguez. Postal Inspectors remain on alert for fraud scams targeting consumers, bringing fraudsters to justice worldwide.”

Ms. Strauss praised the investigative work of the USPIS and thanked the Federal Trade Commission and the United States Trustee for Region 5 for their assistance.

This case is being handled by the Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Lai is in charge of the prosecution.

If you believe you are a potential victim of this fraud, please contact Postal Inspector Brandy King-Gonzalez of the USPIS at bnking-gonzalez@uspis.gov, or (212) 330-5252.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

Christopher Lee Horn, 58, and Sondra Horn, 57, both of Richville, Minnesota, a former Mount Vernon, Ohio couple pleaded guilty today to accepting federal mortgage assistance in Ohio while living in another state and renting the Ohio property to a tenant.

Part of the relief programs funds targeted aid to families in states hit hard by the 2008 economic and housing market downturn. The program provided state housing finance agencies funding to develop locally tailored foreclosure prevention solutions. In Ohio, the housing finance agency created “Save the Dream Ohio,” a statewide program focused on unemployed and underemployed homeowners at risk of mortgage loan default or foreclosure.

According to court documents, the Horns admitted to receiving more than $14,000 in Save the Dream Ohio mortgage assistance funds to which they were not entitled.

In September 2014, the couple received more than $2,800 in rescue payment assistance and was approved to receive 18 monthly mortgage assistance payments of $692 each for their property at 18 Marion Street in Mount Vernon.

Also in September 2014, Christopher and Sondra Horn negotiated to rent their Marion Street residence to a tenant for $655 per month. In later months, the amount increased. The couple requested the tenant pay his monthly rent in cash or personal check to a third party, who then deposited the money into a joint credit union account controlled by the Horns.

Both pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Each pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit theft of government property, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Today the defendants join 388 defendants convicted of crimes the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief (SIGTARP) investigated,” said Special Inspector General Christy Goldsmith Romero. “Christopher and Sondra Horn knowingly defrauded a TARP program that helps unemployed homeowners stay in their primary home. The Special Inspector General commends the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio for standing with SIGTARP to combat rescue fraud.”

Congress sets the maximum statutory sentence. Sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the Court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

David M. DeVillers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; and Special Inspector General Christy Goldsmith Romero, Troubled Asset Relief Program; announced the plea offered today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Norah McCann King. Assistant United States Attorney Sheila G. Lafferty is representing the United States in this case.