Douglas Skibicki, 42, Bethesda, Maryland, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake to 33 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for two counts of mail fraud in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme in which he defrauded lenders, family and others. Judge Blake ordered that Skibicki forfeit $1.4 million and pay restitution to the victims, with the exact amount to be determined at a later date
As previously reported by Mortgage Fraud Blog, Skibicki was a mortgage originator and/or broker for a company which operated in Laurel, Maryland. Skibicki admitted that from April 2006 through August 2009, with the assistance of an appraiser and others, he defrauded lenders, family members and others through a series of real estate transactions.
For example, in May 2007, the owner of a construction company (Owner) was facing financial difficulties and asked Skibicki for help. Skibicki had previously assisted in refinancing the Owner’s residence. Skibicki agreed to purchase a 50 percent interest from the Owner in property located at 7609 Bay Street, Pasadena, California, for $121,000, in the name of a member of Skibiki‘s family. Only a garage with an attached room and an unusable outhouse existed on the property. There was no running water or operable bathroom.
On May 9, 2007, the appraiser working with Skibicki completed a fraudulent appraisal of the Pasadena property, falsely representing that there was a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home on the property with a “modern” kitchen and an enclosed porch and pier. The appraiser also included photos of the front and rear of a home, falsely representing that the photos were of a home located on the property. Skibicki submitted a fraudulent loan application to a bank for a mortgage on the Pasadena property in the name of the family member, which contained false statements as to the family member’s income and current residence. The family member did not sign the loan application, and neither the family member nor the Owner signed the settlement documents showing that a settlement for the property occurred on May 15, 2007.
Based on the false information submitted by Skibicki, the bank provided a $260,971 mortgage on the Pasadena property in the name of the family member. Skibicki received $249,997.18 in the name of the family member. Skibicki told the title company handling the settlement to wire $121,000 to a bank account held in the name of the Owner’s construction company to pay for the 50 percent interest that Skibicki had purchased in the name of family member. Skibicki subsequently allowed the mortgage to go into default, leading to foreclosure proceedings.
In addition, Skibicki and another family member owned property at 5870 Deer Ridge Lane, Elkridge, Maryland. On June 2, 2006, Skibicki submitted a loan application for $350,000 to refinance the Elkridge property. Skibicki’s appraiser prepared a fraudulent appraisal indicating that there was a 2,040 square foot home on the property and included photographs purporting to be of the home. In fact, the property was a vacant lot.
In August 2007, while the Elkridge property remained a vacant lot, Skibicki decided to refinance the property again, this time in his name only. On August 18, 2007, Skibicki‘s appraiser completed another fraudulent appraisal, stating that a 3,297 square foot, five bedroom home existed on the property, with a stone patio, an enclosed and covered porch, and a balcony. Again, the appraiser included photos of a home that existed elsewhere. Skibicki submitted a loan application to a bank seeking to refinance for $517,500, with title to the property only in Skibicki‘s name. The family member who owned the property with Skibicki had not given permission to take his name off the title. The loan application also falsely stated: that the purpose of the refinancing was a cash-out home improvement; Skibicki‘s employment and income; and that he planned to use the Elkridge property as his primary residence. Skibicki also submitted fraudulent W-2s for tax years 2005 and 2006.
Based on the false information that Skibicki provided, on October 23, 2007, the bank provided a loan in the amount of $517,500. Skibicki allowed the mortgage on the Elkridge property to go into default, leading to foreclosure proceedings.
Skibicki admitted that he made and caused to be made misrepresentations to other lenders in order to obtain mortgages on additional properties.
The appraiser referred to above died before charges could be filed against him.
In a related action, the Commissioner of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Division of Financial Regulation previously issued an order to cease and desist against Skibicki, prohibiting him from engaging in any further credit services business activities and foreclosure consultant activities with Maryland residents.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Chief William J. McMahon of the Howard County Police Department; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely; Special Agent in Charge Barbara Golden of the United States Secret Service ““ Baltimore Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Ken Taylor, Jr. of the Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General – Office of Investigations.
The Maryland Mortgage Fraud Task Force was established to unify the agencies that regulate and investigate mortgage fraud and promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of mortgage fraud schemes. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Task Force, demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies to protect consumers from fraud and promote the integrity of the credit markets. Information about mortgage fraud prosecutions is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/md/Mortgage-Fraud/index.html.
This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein recognized Howard County State’s Attorney Dario Broccolino and Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department, and their offices, for their assistance in this investigation and prosecution.
Mr. Rosenstein thanked the Howard County Police Department, FBI, Secret Service and HUD-OIG for their work in this investigation. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Biran, who prosecuted the case.