Archives For Stephanie Abbott

James Gerard Temme, 50, Plano, Texas has been sentenced today to federal prison for wire fraud.

According to information presented in court, in 2011, Temme engaged in wire fraud by inducing individuals to invest in a package of mortgages, misrepresenting that he had the ability to sell the package to the investors.  Temme provided a forged signature to induce the investment, eventually receiving over $3 million from the investors, when in fact he never actually sold the package of mortgages to the investors.  Temme was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sep. 21, 2016 and charged with federal violations.

Temme pleaded guilty on Oct. 11, 2017, to wire fraud and was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison on Oct. 16, 2018 by U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone.  Temme was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,933,667.48.

U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown made the announcement.

“White collar theft often hurts victims just as much as thefts that happen with a gun,” said U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown. “This was a lot of money.  I am proud of the FBI investigators for pursuing it aggressively, and a prison sentence was wholly justified in this case.”

Mr. Temme, knowingly acted in an unscrupulous and reckless manner to entice many innocent people into making investments that were unsound,” said Eric K. Jackson, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Division. “Economic fraud is becoming common place, but we will continue to target the offenders and bring the appropriate charges, while protecting the citizens’ rights to fair and trustworthy services.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas.

 

Nomura Holding America Inc. and several of its affiliates (“Nomura”) have reached an agreement with the United States where it will pay a $480 million penalty to resolve federal civil claims that Nomura misled investors in connection with the marketing, sale and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities (“RMBS”) between 2006 and 2007.  Nomura’s investors, which included university endowments, retirement funds and federally insured financial institutions, suffered significant losses due to Nomura’s misconduct.

The settlement stems from allegations that Nomura knowingly securitized defective mortgage loans in its RMBS and misled investors regarding the quality and characteristics of those loans.  For example, the United States alleged that:

  • In presentations regarding its RMBS program, Nomura claimed that its due diligence process was “extensive,” “disciplined” and “carefully developed.”  Nomura also told investors that it only worked with “hand-picked industry leading” due diligence vendors, and that, as a result of its superior standards and due diligence processes, “Nomura’s loan performance should surpass industry standards.”  These claims were false.  Nomura knew, based on its due diligence, that thousands of loans that it securitized in its RMBS did not comply with applicable underwriting guidelines or were supported by inflated and potentially fraudulent appraisals.  Nomura concealed these deficiencies from investors, securitizing many of these defective loans as “favors” to loan originators—including, for example, loans that one originator openly described to Nomura as “dogsh[*]t.”  As stated by a member of Nomura’s RMBS due diligence group: “There is no such thing as a bad loan . . . just a bad price.”
  • Nomura also knew that a significant number of loans that it securitized in its RMBS had not gone through Nomura’s stated due diligence process, and, more broadly, that its process had been compromised.  Nomura’s head of RMBS due diligence (in the context of proposed changes to Nomura’s loan-by-loan buying program) stated that Nomura was “turning into the lemming of the mortgage business,” “following the herd” and compromising its standards “to comply with the masses in p[u]rsuit of volume.”  Additionally, a member of Nomura’s RMBS group’s origination sales team, in an email to the entire RMBS group, remarked that “advertising will be a great career when all these loans finally blow up . . . . (I will be selling vacuum cleaners door to door when the market goes by the way).”
  • Despite this knowledge, Nomura failed to address the weaknesses in its due diligence processes, and continued to do business with originators that, according to its own due diligence personnel, were “extremely dysfunctional,” had “systemic” underwriting issues and employed “questionable” origination practices.  Indeed, Nomura’s securitization of defective loans in the subject deals—in spite of numerous red flags—reflected a conscious decision by senior Nomura personnel to compete for market share in a highly competitive RMBS market.  As stated by one member of Nomura’s RMBS team, Nomura could not just “buck the entire marketplace when [it was] hammered to grow.”
  • Likewise, despite knowing that its due diligence was ineffective and did not remove large numbers of defective loans from its RMBS, in mid-2006, Nomura announced new, “more liberal” underwriting guidelines for its loan-by-loan purchase program.  Although Nomura’s head of RMBS due diligence warned that Nomura had already “loosened guidelines in so many areas” and that it was “at risk of giving away the proverbial store,” the prevailing view, as characterized by Nomura’s RMBS trading desk, was that Nomura’s “box [was] too restrictive.”  Nomura’s new guidelines allowed for the purchase of loans that Nomura’s due diligence personnel previously described as “sheer lunacy.”

These are allegations only, which Nomura disputes, and there has been no trial or adjudication or judicial finding of any issue of fact or law.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Jennifer Byrne, Associate Inspector General, Federal Housing Finance Agency-Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG), announced the settlement.

This settlement holds Nomura accountable for its fraudulent conduct in connection with its Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities offerings, which caused substantial harm to investors and contributed to the financial crisis of 2008,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “The Department of Justice, this Office and our partners will continue to aggressively pursue wrongdoing in our financial markets, including, as appropriate, financial crisis-era misconduct.

The actions of Nomura resulted in significant losses to investors, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which purchased Nomura Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities backed by defective loans,” stated FHFA-OIG Associate Inspector General Byrne.  “We are proud to have partnered with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York on this matter.”

The settlement was the result of a multi-year investigation by the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, pursuant to the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Clayton P. Solomon and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Morgan J. Brennan led the government’s investigation.

 

Mark Savransky, New York, pleaded guilty today to scamming 32 homeowners out of $568,000 in a mortgage modification scheme.

The defendant operated a mortgage modification business in Nassau County, New York using the name Mark Savran. Between 2008 and 2014, he promised 32 homeowners in Nassau County and elsewhere that after securing modifications, he would hold their mortgage payments in trust and forward them to the financial institutions servicing the homeowners’ mortgages.

Instead, the defendant converted the funds for personal use, stealing approximately $568,000 from these homeowners. Among other things, Savransky used the funds for ATM cash withdrawals, credit card payments, child support, car payments, gasoline, travel expenses, restaurants, grocery stores, department stores and Netflix.

Savransky’s clients were typically residential homeowners who had purchased their homes using a subprime adjustable rate mortgage sometime between 2006 and 2009. When the payments became more than the homeowner could afford, homeowners hired the defendant to assist in obtaining a mortgage modification.

Savransky requested that all paperwork from the bank be given to him and if additional paperwork was sent by the bank to the victim, he demanded that it be given to him immediately, preferably unopened.

The defendant then counseled clients to give him the monthly mortgage payment that was due under the modified mortgage. Savransky informed his clients that he would make the payments on their behalf and, in doing so, create a record of payment that would prevent a lender from denying that payments were made or from reneging on any mortgage modification that was obtained. At the defendant’s request, these payments were mostly made in cash or by check that did not include the payee. Savransky later completed the payee portion of the check, thereby giving him the means to misappropriate the funds.

 Because the mortgage payments weren’t made, lenders started to foreclose on the properties belonging to the defendant’s clients. When some of the homeowners complained to him, some of them received a limited amount of repayment.

Savransky’s victims include residents from Amityville, Baldwin, Bayside, Brentwood, the Bronx, Brooklyn, East Northport, Farmingdale, Hempstead, Hicksville, Huntington, Levittown, Lynbrook, Malverne, Merrick, Mount Vernon, New Hyde Park, Queens Village, Richmond Hill, Riverhead, Uniondale and, Westbury, New York.

The defendant was arrested in August 2015 by NCDA detective investigators and arraigned on grand jury indictment charges in October 2017.

Savransky pled guilty to two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a C felony) and one count of Scheme to Defraud Second Degree (an A misdemeanor)

The defendant faces a maximum of one to six years in prison when he is sentenced on January 10. He is due back in court on December 4.

The announcement was made by Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas.

This defendant preyed on vulnerable homeowners during the height of the mortgage crisis and swindled them out of more than a half million dollars,” DA Singas said. “In many cases, homeowners didn’t know they were in trouble until lenders started foreclosing on their homes. I thank the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the Suffolk County Police Department for referring these cases to us for prosecution.”

This case was initially referred to the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office by the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office. Additional cases were also referred by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in conjunction with the Suffolk County Police Department.

Deputy Bureau Chief Peter Mancuso of DA Singas’ Financial Crimes Bureau is prosecuting this case. Joseph Conway, Esq. represents the defendant.

 

ATLANTIC COUNTY, N.J. (CBS) – Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner is the subject of a letter sent to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office requesting an investigation into possible mortgage fraud, unethical practices within the office and hiding evidence pertaining to the April Kauffman case.

Source: Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner Accused Of Mortgage Fraud, Ethics Violations In Kauffman Murder Case « CBS Philly

It was announced today that HSBC will pay $765 million to settle claims related to its packaging, securitization, issuance, marketing and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) between 2005 and 2007.  During this period, federally-insured financial institutions and others suffered major losses from investing in RMBS issued and underwritten by HSBC.  Under the settlement, HSBC will pay the $765 million as a civil penalty pursuant to the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA).

FIRREA authorizes the federal government to seek civil penalties against financial institutions that violate various predicate offenses, including wire and mail fraud.  The United States alleged that HSBC violated FIRREA by misrepresenting to investors the quality of its RMBS and the due diligence procedures it claimed it would use to ensure that quality.  The United States’ allegations are described in the settlement agreement at paragraph 3.

The United States alleged that HSBC had a due diligence process for reviewing the loans HSBC planned to securitize as RMBS, but as early as 2005, an HSBC credit risk manager expressed concerns with HSBC’s due diligence process.  HSBC nevertheless touted its due diligence process to potential investors.  It told investors that when it purchased pools of subprime loans, HSBC would review at least 25% of the loans in the pool for credit and compliance.  It told investors that it selected 20% of the loan pool as an “adverse sample” based on “a proprietary model, which will risk-rank the mortgage loans in the pool.”  But on some loan pools, HSBC’s RMBS trading desk influenced how the risk management group selected loans for the adverse portion of the sample, and as a result, the sample was not based on its model.  HSBC also told investors that it selected another 5% of the loan pool as a “random sample.”  But in some instances, HSBC used a random sample that was less than 5% of the pool, or used a sample that was not random at all.

To review the loans HSBC did select for review, HSBC used due diligence vendors, and HSBC saw the results of the vendors’ reviews of the loans before the deals were issued.  Over a one-and-a-half year period, between January 2006 and June 2007, HSBC’s primary due diligence vendor flagged over 7,400 loans as having low grades—more than one out of every four loans the vendor reviewed for HSBC during that time.  When HSBC employees saw loans with low grades, they sometimes “waived” those loans through or recategorized the grades to make the due diligence “percentages look better.”  They also expressed views about the deals they were issuing.  For example, in 2007, an HSBC trader said, in reference to an RMBS that HSBC was about to issue, “it will suck.”

For a loan pool HSBC purchased in 2006, HSBC learned of what employees referred to as an “abnormally large” and “alarmingly” high number of payment defaults.  HSBC had purchased the loan pool but had not securitized it yet.  Early payment defaults (EPDs)—when a borrower fails to make one of the first few payments on a mortgage—could be, in the words of HSBC’s co-head of RMBS, “an indicator of higher expected loss on the pool.”  In an internal email, HSBC’s head of risk management for RMBS wrote that the high EPD rate could be a sign of systemic problems with the pool.  Others within HSBC’s risk management group expressed concern that the pool “may be contaminated” and asked whether “they should hold back on the securitization launch until there is further clarity on all the issues….”  The next day, the head of HSBC’s whole loan trading risk management group stated that he was “comfortable that we need not make any further disclosures to investors….”  HSBC issued the securitization a few days later.  A later post-close quality control review indicated that loans that “appear to have fraud or misrep” went into the securitization.  HSBC went on to buy and securitize more loans from the same originator, even after the head of HSBC’s due diligence team concluded that the originator had offered “bad collateral.”

After purchasing certain loan pools, HSBC ordered a quality control review but did not wait for the final results before issuing the securitization.  On two pools, HSBC received preliminary quality control results before the issuance of the securitization that, according to the quality control vendor, showed indications of fraud in the origination of particular loans, but included those loans in the RMBS anyway.  On a loan pool in 2007, HSBC performed post-close due diligence on a sample of loans from that pool.  HSBC’s due diligence vendor graded approximately 30% of the loans in the post-close due diligence sample as having the lowest grade.  HSBC went on to securitize loans from that same pool without any further credit or compliance review before securitization.

These are allegations only, which HSBC disputes and does not admit.

U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer made the announcement.

HSBC made choices that hurt people and abused their trust,” said Bob Troyer, United States Attorney for the District of Colorado.  “HSBC chose to use a due diligence process it knew from the start didn’t work.  It chose to put lots of defective mortgages into its deals.  When HSBC saw problems, it chose to rush those deals out the door.  When deals went south, investors who trusted HSBC suffered.  And when the mortgages failed, communities across the country were blighted by foreclosure.  If you make choices like this, beware.  You will pay.”

The actions of HSBC resulted in significant losses to investors, which purchased the HSBC Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities backed by defective loans,” said Associate Inspector General Jennifer Byrne of the Federal Housing Finance Agency-Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG). “We are proud to have partnered with the U.S Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado on this matter.”

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin Traskos, Jasand Mock, Ian J. Kellogg, Hetal J. Doshi, and Lila M. Bateman of the District of Colorado investigated this matter, with the support of the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of the Inspector General (FHFA-OIG).

To report RMBS fraud, go to: http://www.stopfraud.gov/rmbs.html.

David Tipton, 52, Alexandria, Virginia, was sentenced today to a year and a day in prison for defrauding lenders who provided him with nearly $710,000 towards the purchase and renovation of a residential property in Northeast Washington.

According to the government’s evidence, Tipton owned a company that was created to purchase, renovate, and sell residential real estate in the District of Columbia and Virginia. He signed a contract in January 2013 to purchase a property in the 500 block of 14th Street NE, Washington, DC for $450,000 in cash, planning to renovate and sell the property for a profit. He falsely represented that he had the required funds available to close the cash transaction and created a false bank statement to back up the claim. In fact, almost all of the money for the purchase was coming from two unrelated private individuals whom he had met at a real estate investment seminar. Each of them provided Tipton with $224,497, for a total of $448,994, in return for Deeds of Trust securing their interest in the property.  Tipton did not tell the settlement company about the loans.  As a result, the Deeds of Trust were not recorded.

Additionally, Tipton later obtained $260,000 from a private money lender to renovate the property.  Tipton did not disclose to the lender that two other individuals held Deeds of Trust in the property.

Tipton pled guilty in May 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to a charge of mail fraud. He was sentenced by the Honorable Senior Judge Paul L. Friedman. Following his prison term, he will be placed on three years of supervised release. He also must pay $448,994 in restitution, as well as an identical amount in a forfeiture money judgment.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Liu and Assistant Director in Charge McNamara commended the work of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office. They also expressed appreciation for the work of those who handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including former Assistant U.S. Attorney John P. Marston, former Criminal Investigator Juan Juarez, Paralegal Specialist Aisha Keys, and former Paralegal Specialist Kristy Penny. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Saler, who investigated and prosecuted the case.

Victor Santos, a/k/a “Vitor Santos,” 58, Wachtung, New Jersey; Arsenio Santos, a/k/a “Gaspar Santos,” 51, Warren, New Jersey; and Fausto Simoes, 65, Millington, New Jersey were arraigned today on multiple charges in connection with their alleged roles in a mortgage fraud scheme.

The three were charged on Sept. 24, 2018, in a 19-count indictment. They were each charged with one count of conspiring to commit bank fraud. Victor Santos was charged with nine counts of bank fraud and nine counts of making false statements in an application for credit. Arsenio Santos was charged with four counts of bank fraud and four counts of making false statements in an application for credit. Simoes was charged with seven counts of bank fraud and seven counts of making false statements in an application for credit.

According to documents filed in this case:

From September 2007 through November 2008, Victor Santos, a real estate investor; Arsenio Santos, a builder; and Simoes, a real estate settlement attorney, and others allegedly conspired to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans with a total value of more than $4 million.

Victor Santos, Arsenio Santos, and their conspirators allegedly recruited “straw buyers”, individuals who purchase a property for another in order to conceal the identity of the actual purchaser, usually in exchange for a fee, to purchase properties in Newark, New Jersey.

In exchange for the use of the straw buyers’ identity and credit history, Victor Santos, Arsenio Santos, and others allegedly agreed to pay each of the straw buyers a fee of at least $5,000, provide the straw buyer’s down payment and cash required for closing, secure tenants to lease the purchased property, and make the mortgage payments on each of the fraudulently obtained mortgages. These secret agreements were not disclosed to the bank. Shortly after the properties were acquired the mortgages went into default.

For the three representative schemes highlighted in the indictment, Victor Santos, Arsenio Santos, and their conspirators prepared and submitted mortgage applications containing false information to the bank and obtained loans totaling more than $1.3 million. The conspirators allegedly arranged transactions for the Newark properties whereby the straw buyers would nominally purchase the properties for far more than the sellers had agreed to sell them, and the conspirators diverted excess loan proceeds for their own benefit and to further the conspiracy.

Simoes was the closing attorney on approximately 10 of the fraudulent transactions and signed and certified the final settlement statements. These statements falsely stated that the cash required for closing for each transaction came from the straw buyer. In fact, Victor Santos and his conspirators provided those funds to Simoes and the funds were deposited into Simoes’ attorney trust account. For certain transactions, a shell company – whose bank account was controlled by Victor Santos and a conspirator – and to which funds from fraudulently obtained mortgage loans were disbursed – was the source of the cashier’s checks given to Simoes to fund the straw buyer’s cash required at closing. For other transactions, down payments came from an account owned and controlled by Arsenio Santos or from the proceeds of a previously obtained fraudulent loan.

The conspiracy to commit bank fraud count, the bank fraud counts, and the false statement counts, each carry a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison, a fine of $1 million or twice the gross gain to the defendants or twice the gross loss to others whichever is greater.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Manchak, and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie of the Newark office, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charlie Divine and Kevin DiGregory of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Economic Crimes Unit in Newark and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General.

Christopher Goodson, 45, Newark, New Jersey, an attorney,  admitted today to running a large-scale mortgage fraud scheme that involved properties in Jersey City, Clifton, Union, and elsewhere in New Jersey and caused losses of millions of dollars.

Goodson pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

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

From January 2011 through August 2017, Goodson, his co-defendant, Anthony Garvin, and others engaged in a short sale mortgage fraud conspiracy targeting various New Jersey properties with mortgages that were in default.   http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Christopher+Goodson

The conspirators arranged simultaneous fraudulent transactions on the same target property. In the first transaction, which involved the sale by the current owner, the conspirators convinced the financial institution holding the mortgage to accept the sale of the target property at a loss, usually to a buyer who was secretly a conspirator or an entity controlled by the conspiracy.

In the second transaction, the conspirators flipped the same target property from the first buyer to a second buyer, who typically obtained a mortgage from another financial institution using false loan applications, pay stubs, bank account statements and title reports provided by members of the conspiracy. As a result, the second transaction frequently closed for significantly more or even double the price of the first transaction.

Goodson admitted that he, Garvin, and others rigged the short sale process at each step in order to maximize the difference in price between the two transactions and keep the victim financial institutions from detecting the fraud.

For instance, Goodson concealed the fact that he played multiple roles in the short sale transactions, including allegedly generating false pre-approval letters from a New Jersey corporation he owned that purported to be a short-term lending company operating out of California. These letters were used to deceive banks into believing that the purchaser – typically a conspirator or entity controlled by Goodson – had the credit necessary for the transaction. Goodson also negotiated the fraudulent short sales with the banks, generated phony deeds that backdated the closing date of the first transactions, and even served as the closing attorney during some of the short sales.

Garvin was a real estate agent and investor who allegedly coordinated fraudulent transactions as part of the scheme. The charge against him remains pending; he is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The conspirators disbursed the funds into various accounts they controlled to conceal their illegal activities and split the profits. In total, the conspiracy defrauded financial institutions out of millions of dollars.

The conspiracy to commit bank fraud count is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for January 29, 2019.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito made the announcement.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory Ehrie in Newark, postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge James V. Buthorn, and special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) – Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Steven Perez in Newark, with the investigation

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Feder and Zach Intrater, Executive Assistant to the U.S. Attorney, in Newark.

Defense counsel: John C. Whipple Esq., Morristown, New Jersey

 

Hasan Hussain, 57, Princeton, New Jersey, who was previously convicted in federal court and incarcerated for masterminding a real estate fraud scheme, pleaded guilty on Friday to charges that he again conspired to defraud financially distressed homeowners, investors, and financial institutions of fees, rental income, mortgage payment funds, property ownership and/or proceeds from the sale of their properties.

At the time of his guilty plea to the most recent federal indictment, Hussain admitted to using various business entities to trick distressed property owners, who were seeking loan modifications, into paying him fees, moving out of their homes, and selling their homes in short sale transactions.  As part of the plea, Hussain further admitted that he convinced lenders to agree to artificially low sale prices for the distressed property owners’ homes by directing other individuals to damage the properties prior to the short sales. Thereby, Hussain, or individuals or businesses associated with him, acquired the properties at reduced prices, and then flipped them to investors at much higher prices.  During his change of plea, Hussain admitted that these investors were defrauded of their funds, or good credit, or both when they agreed to purchase properties from Hussain.

Hussain further admitted that he assisted investors to acquire federally backed mortgages through fraudulent applications, ultimately resulting in losses to the lenders or the Federal Housing Administration.  Some of the tactics employed by Hussain as part of the scheme included misuse of identities and cutting and pasting signatures on property deeds and financial documents.

As part of his plea agreement, Hussain admitted that his scheme resulted in losses between $550,000 and $1.5 million dollars; that ten or more victims were harmed; and that at least some of his victims were particularly vulnerable, as a result of their personal situation.  The plea agreement also provided that the government would seek a leadership enhancement for Hussain given the extensive nature of the scheme and his role in it.

Hussain also pled guilty to aggravated identity theft in connection with the scheme.

At sentencing on January 8, 2018, Hussain faces up to 32 years in federal prison, 5 years of supervised release, and a fine of $1,250,000.

A co-defendant in this matter, Ricardo Abreu, who pled guilty earlier this year is scheduled to be sentenced on October 30, 2018.

Hussain’s guilty plea before U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., is announced by United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch; Christina D. Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the Northeast Region of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General; Brian Deck, Resident Agent in Charge of the Providence Office of the U.S. Secret Service; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Division of the FBI; and Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra R. Hebert and Richard B. Myrus.

Larry Allen Todt, 66, formerly of Malibu, California was sentenced to over seven years in prison and ordered to pay over $3,000,000 in restitution for his role in a fraudulent mortgage elimination scheme.

On December 6, 2017, Todt was convicted following trial on one count of conspiracy and one count of bank fraud.

According to court documents, between April 22, 2010, and November 18, 2011, Todt was a member of a conspiracy that ran a mortgage elimination program purporting to help distressed homeowners avoid foreclosure. The conspirators fraudulently altered the chain of title on residential properties, sold the properties, and received the sales proceeds.

As a requirement for participation in the “mortgage elimination program,” the conspirators enrolled homeowners as members in a Nevada City-based church named Shon-te-East-a, Walks With Spirit, or its successor entity, Pillow Foundation. The conspirators indicated to the homeowners that these entities would offer protection against the banks.

Todt ran a branch of the mortgage elimination program, recruiting homeowners into the scheme, marshaling the necessary recorded documents, and guiding the sale of the homes. Once the homeowner enrolled with Shon-te-East-a or Pillow Foundation, Todt would have a sham deed of trust created and recorded, giving the impression that the homeowner had refinanced the mortgage loan with a new lender. In reality, the new lender was a fake entity controlled by the conspirators, and the homeowner owed no money to the purported new lender.

The next step in the process was also a recorded document. The conspirators caused a fake deed of reconveyance to be recorded, giving the appearance that the true mortgage loan had been discharged and that the true lien holder no longer had a security interest in the home.

With title appearing to be clear, the conspirators caused the sale of the home with the proceeds split between the co-conspirators and the homeowners.

In total, 37 properties were sold through the Shon-te-East-a conspiracy. The conspirators recorded fraudulent documents on an additional approximately 100 homes, but were unable to sell these before the scheme unraveled.

One co-defendant, George B. Larson, formerly of San Rafael, California was convicted at trial along with Todt and sentenced to 121 months in prison. One other co-defendant, Michael Romano, Benicia, California was sentenced to 37 months in prison following his guilty plea. Remus A. Kirkpatrick, formerly of Oceanside, California and Laura Pezzi, Roseville, California have previously pleaded guilty. Tisha Trites and Todd Smith, both of San Diego, California pleaded guilty in related cases. All are awaiting sentencing.

Co-defendants John Michael DiChiara, Penn Valley, California, and James Castle, Santa Rosa, California are awaiting trial. The charges against DiChiara and Castle are only allegations; both defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott made the announcement.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Audrey B. Hemesath and Todd A. Pickles are prosecuting the case.