Archives For Mortgage Fraud

Marek Harrison, 56, Plant City, Florida, has been sentenced to 20 months in federal prison for his role in a bank fraud scheme.

According to court documents, between September 2007 and December 2008,

Harrison created and executed a mortgage fraud scheme involving Saratoga Resort Villas, a condominium conversion of a former hotel located in Kissimmee, Florida. Harrison’s scheme to defraud financial institutions involved kickbacks of mortgage proceeds to buyers and co-conspirators, as well as misrepresentations regarding the source of down payment funds for the transactions. None of the incentives and kickbacks were disclosed to the mortgage lenders. Harrison also recruited otherwise unqualified buyers, and he provided down payment money for the buyers. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Marek+Harrison

The court also ordered Harrison to pay $2,753,495.79 in restitution to the victim financial institutions.

Harrison had pleaded guilty on November 27, 2019.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

Ruben Rodriguez, 43, and Jaime Mayorga, 41, both of Sacramento, California were convicted and were sentenced, yesterday, each to two years in prison for conspiring to commit wire fraud at a jury trial in April 2019.

According to court documents, between October 2004 and May 2007, Rodriguez and Mayorga were employees of Delta Homes and Lending Inc., a now-defunct Sacramento-based real estate and mortgage lending company that was founded by co-defendant Moctezuma “Mo” Tovar, 50, Sacramento, California. Rodriguez, Mayorga, Tovar, and other Delta Homes employees and co-defendants Manuel Herrera, Davis, California, Sandra Hermosillo, 57, Woodland, California,  Jun Michael Dirain, 47, Antelope, California and Christian Parada Renteria, 43, formerly of Sacramento, California agreed to commit fraud to obtain home loans from mortgage lenders. As part of the scheme, Rodriguez and Mayorga submitted fraudulent mortgage loan applications and supporting documents, which falsely represented the borrowers’ assets and income, liabilities and debts, employment status, citizenship status, and intent to occupy the property. Rodriguez and Mayorga also provided money to the borrowers in order to inflate their bank account balances. Once the loans were secured, the borrowers returned the money. The aggregate sales price of the homes involved in the overall conspiracy was in excess of $10 million. As a result of the conspiracy, mortgage lenders and others suffered losses of at least $4 million. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=delta+home+%26+Lending

Tovar was sentenced to 4 ½ years in prison. Herrera was sentenced to one year in prison. Dirain was sentenced to six months in prison, followed by six months of home detention. Hermosillo, was sentenced to nine months of home detention. Parada Renteria pleaded guilty to two counts of concealing felonies related to the wire fraud conspiracy, and was previously sentenced to serve 1 year in prison.

Attorney McGregor W. Scott made the announcement.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian A. Fogerty and Justin L. Lee prosecuted the case.

 

Tanya Firmani, 47, Jacksonville, Florida has been found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud and six counts of bankruptcy fraud.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Firmani conspired with others in a foreclosure rescue/bankruptcy fraud scheme. Firmani solicited homeowners whose mortgages were in default and offered to rescue their homes from foreclosure. To prevent the Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”), the Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”), and multiple financial institutions from lawfully foreclosing on homeowners’ properties, Firmani filed or caused the filing of fraudulent bankruptcy petitions in the homeowners’ names just prior to the scheduled foreclosure sale dates. The fraudulent bankruptcies triggered the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay provision, preventing Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, and the financial institutions from conducting foreclosure sales and obtaining the titles to the properties. The fraudulent bankruptcy petitions enabled Firmani to collect fees and allowed her co-conspirators to obtain ill-gotten commissions for short-sales causing losses to creditors.

Firmani faces a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment on each count. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 21, 2020.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General. The Office of United States Trustee for the Middle District of Florida provided substantial investigative assistance. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

 

Paul Nicoletti, 60, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a former Oakland County lawyer was sentenced yesterday, January 30, 2020, to serve 70 months in federal custody on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and three counts of bank fraud.

According to the evidence introduced during the trial, Mr. Nicoletti, a lawyer and owner of a title company became involved in a scheme to obtain large mortgage loans from Fifth Third Mortgage, Michigan, a lending arm of Fifth Third Bank. Although somewhat complicated, the essence of the scheme involved real estate developers, a corrupt loan officer and Mr. Nicoletti working together to obtain large mortgage loans from Fifth Third Mortgage, Michigan, purportedly for the purchase and development of high-end properties in Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham, Michigan, based on numerous false statements both in the application and closing process of the loans, resulting in Fifth Third Mortgage, Michigan releasing over eight million dollars in loan proceeds.

More specifically, one or more of the conspirators would find and recruit “straw buyers” to serve as mortgage loan applicants for the purchase of real property which the conspirators wanted to purchase and develop. The straw buyers, who viewed themselves as “investors,” were paid a fee for the use of their names and credit histories in the loan applications and real estate transactions, and were promised a portion of the expected profit after the property was developed and resold. The straw buyers had no intention of living at or actually exercising ownership and control of the property, despite representations to the contrary in their applications, and in closing documents. Despite their good credit ratings, the straw buyers did not have the assets or income necessary to qualify for mortgages in the substantial amounts sought. Thus, false information pertaining to their income and assets was included in the mortgage loan applications to qualify them. Mr. Nicoletti’s role was to facilitate the fraudulent loans as the title agent by, among other things, falsely verifying that the borrowers made substantial down payments on the properties. To do so, Mr. Nicoletti obtained cashier’s checks, issued after the loan proceeds were released to his Continental Title account and which were funded by the loan proceeds themselves, bearing the names of the straw buyers as “remitters,” which he then re-deposited into his Continental Title account, making it appear as though the borrowers funded the substantial down payments. In fact, the borrowers brought no money to the closings. When the fraud was discovered by authorities, Mr. Nicoletti counseled the destruction of evidence of the fraud and also personally destroyed relevant electronic and paper records.

Mr. Nicoletti was the sixth person convicted as a result of this investigation. The loan officer, a mortgage broker, an appraiser and several of the real estate developers have previously been sentenced after entering guilty pleas relating to the scheme. The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Craig Weier and John Neal.

Nicoletti received the sentence from the Honorable Victoria A. Roberts, United States District Judge, in Detroit, Michigan. Judge Roberts also ordered that the defendant serve two years on supervised release after his release from federal custody and pay restitution totaling $5,299,751.58. A jury returned guilty verdicts against Mr. Nicoletti on May 5, 2019 after a seven-day trial.

United States Attorney Matthew Schneider made the announcement today.

George Gilmore, 70, Toms River, New Jersey, a partner at an Ocean County, New Jersey, law firm, was sentenced today to one year and one day in prison for his conviction on two counts of failing to pay over payroll taxes withheld from employees to the IRS and one count of making false statements on a bank loan application submitted to Ocean First Bank N.A.

According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:

Gilmore worked as an equity partner and shareholder at Gilmore & Monahan P.A., a law firm in Toms River, New Jersey, where he exercised primary control over the firm’s financial affairs. Because he exercised significant control over the law firm’s financial affairs, Gilmore was responsible for withholding payroll taxes from the gross salary and wages of the law firm’s employees to cover individual income, Social Security and Medicare tax obligations. For the tax quarters ending March 31, 2016, and June 30, 2016, the law firm withheld tax payments from its employees’ checks, but Gilmore failed to pay over in full the payroll taxes due to the IRS.

Gilmore also submitted a loan application to Ocean First Bank containing false statements. On November 21, 2014, Gilmore reviewed, signed, and submitted to Ocean First Bank a Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA) to obtain refinancing of a mortgage loan for $1.5 million with a “cash out” provision that provided Gilmore would obtain cash from the loan. On January 22, 2015, Gilmore submitted another URLA updating the initial application. Gilmore failed to disclose his outstanding 2013 tax liabilities and personal loans that he had obtained from others on the URLAs. Gilmore received $572,000 from the cash out portion of the loan.

On April 17, 2019, Gilmore was acquitted of two counts of filing false tax returns for calendar years 2013 and 2014; the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on one count of income tax evasion for calendar years 2013, 2014, and 2015. The verdicts were returned following a trial that began April 1, 2019, before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson, who imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Thompson sentenced Gilmore to three years of supervised release.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Honig for the District of New Jersey and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division credited special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur, special agents with the U.S. Attorney’s Office under the direction of Supervisory Special Agent Thomas Mahoney, and special agents of the FBI Red Bank Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Deputy U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Skahill; Assistant U.S. Attorney Jihee G. Suh of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division; and Trial Attorney Thomas F. Koelbl of the U.S. Department of Justice – Tax Division.

 

Jack V. Smalley, 70, Colorado Springs, Colorado was found guilty for bank fraud related to a mortgage application with the Navy Federal Credit Union.

On June 25, 2015, Smalley submitted a mortgage loan application with the Navy Federal Credit Union indicating that he earned a salary of approximately $200,000 dollars a year.  At the time, Smalley knew that wasn’t true.  In conducting its due diligence, the Navy Federal Credit Union requested a pay stub that would show Smalley’s monthly income, a letter from his employer to verify his employment and salary, and a bank statement to show Smalley’s income deposited into his bank account.

Smalley took steps to falsify the requested information, including falsifying a pay stub and his employment letter.  Based on the fraudulent documents, the Navy Federal Credit Union approved Smalley for a $998,000 loan.  Smalley defaulted on that loan in 2017.   In trying to mitigate his loan, Smalley provided two more fraudulent employment letters in 2018 and 2019.   Smalley used the proceeds of the loan to purchase a $1.1 million dollar residence in Colorado Springs, Colorado.   As part of the proceedings in this case, the Court ruled that the residence is subject to forfeiture based on the bank fraud.

United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn made the announcement.  The Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigations, and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations join in this announcement.

Lying to get a home loan is fraud, and the guilty verdict by the jury who heard this case made that perfectly clear,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn.  “Thanks to the hard work of our office and the law enforcement agents investigating this case, Smalley is now a convicted felon facing prison time.”

Smalley is scheduled to be sentenced on April 27, 2020.   The case was investigated by the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigations and Air Force Office of Criminal Investigations.  The trial was before U.S. District Court Judge Daniel D. Domenico.  The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Sibert.

Gregory Gibbons, 54, Mobile, Alabama, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution. The announcement was made today.

Between June 2008 and February 2009, the defendant conspired with others, including Alagi Samba, a realtor, and Daniel Badu, to devise a scheme to obtain eight loans for unqualified borrowers for homes in the Bronx, New York.  As part of the scheme, Gibbons acted as the mortgage broker and altered income and asset documents of the borrowers before they were sent to financial institutions.

For instance, Gibbons altered and created documents to make it appear that defendant Badu qualified for a mortgage on a property at 814 Faile Street, Bronx, New York. The defendant indicated that Badu was a research ophthalmologist and earned a specific income when in fact, Badu was not a research ophthalmologist nor did he receive the income stated on a loan application. Gibbons knew that these false loan documents were submitted to

The Funding Source, a mortgage bank, 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 Funding Source then sold the loan on the secondary market to M &T Bank, which wired funds from New York through the State of Ohio to purchase the loan.

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. These fraudulent transactions caused losses of approximately $4,800,007 affecting M&T Bank and other financial institutions including SunTrust Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank, and Citibank. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Gregory+Gibbons

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

Gibbons was sentenced to time served by Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. The defendant was also ordered to pay restitution totaling $1,458,847.90 to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, CitiBank, and M&T Bank.

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph 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, Buffalo Division, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert.

Vision Property Management, LLC, a South Carolina based real estate company, its CEO Alex Szkaradek, and a number of affiliated companies have agreed today, subject to court approval, that more than $3.75 million will be paid in consumer restitution for engaging in and operating an illegal, deceptive, and unlicensed mortgage-lending business that targeted, among others, the disabled, the elderly, single parents, and others living on fixed incomes.

Specifically, the settlement includes cash payments of $600,000 that will be distributed to numerous New York consumers who were victims of Vision’s conduct and have, for the most part, moved out of their previous homes. Additionally, more than $3.15 million in unpaid principal for 58 homes will be forgiven by Vision as restitution. The ownership of these 58 homes will be transferred, free and clear of any future payments, to Vision’s current New York consumers. Additionally, the defendants must wind down their remaining business in New York over the following year, and along with any businesses they take a controlling interest in, are permanently enjoined from engaging in any future residential real estate business in New York.

The settlement is set to resolve an August 2019 federal lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, alleging that, since at least 2011, Vision and its affiliates profited from predatory, subprime home loans at the expense of some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, primarily in Upstate and Central New York. In the complaint, Attorney General James and Superintendent Lacewell accused the company of buying severely distressed properties and marketing them at a substantial markup with high-cost, interest rates, in the range of 10% to 25%. Vision rarely disclosed these high interest rates and typically made no repairs or renovations to the dilapidated homes they were selling, illegally passing those costs on to consumers. Further, Vision was not properly licensed to engage in seller finance lending in New York, which it was required to be beginning in late 2011, and thus was operating illegally when entering into these transactions.

The lawsuit further charged that Vision targeted vulnerable consumers who , by the company’s own admission, were eager to share in the American dream of homeownership, but could not qualify for conventional financing due to various employment, health, marital, or other financial reasons. While Vision claimed its “unique” business model was a path to homeownership, in reality, the company made significant profits with little risk by skirting consumer protections and financial regulations and trapping consumers with high cost mortgages and often uninhabitable homes.

Despite placing the burden of repairing and maintaining the homes on consumers, Vision did not fully disclose the many dangerous, unhealthy, and unsafe conditions in its homes, and in many instances concealed the extent of these conditions by leaving the electricity and other utilities turned off while consumers took walk throughs of the homes. These conditions included pest infestations; faulty electrical wiring; water damage; missing heaters, pipes, water tanks, and septic systems; mold; asbestos; foundation damage; and severely damaged and rotted out, floors, windows, walls, and roofs. The high cost of Vision’s loans combined with the significant cost of repairing these violations set consumers up to fail. Moreover, Vision routinely evicted consumers who had invested substantial sums of money in repairs without offering them the foreclosure protections to which they were entitled.

The settlement being announced today is still subject to final court approval.

New York Attorney General Letitia James and New York Superintendent of Financial Services Linda Lacewell made the announcement.

Vision’s illegal and deceptive practices that were targeted against New York’s most vulnerable residents will finally be put to an end,” said Attorney General James.Owning a home is what millions of New Yorkers dream of, but Vision turned that dream into a nightmare. Not only are we shutting down this company’s illegal New York racket, but we are securing restitution for the many victims and are ensuring 58 families have their mortgage debts wiped away. A fair and transparent housing market is essential for the health, welfare, and economic stability of New York and its residents, which is why my office will never stop fighting to hold companies responsible for their deceptive actions. I want to thank Superintendent Lacewell and her team at DFS for their partnership and diligent work throughout this case.”

Vision property management stole from hundreds of New Yorkers who sought the American dream of homeownership,” added Superintendent Lacewell. “This settlement holds Vision accountable for their illegal actions and provides a measure of restitution to New Yorkers who were victimized by Vision’s predatory practices. This is a clear message that New York has zero tolerance for those who rely on deception and fraud to turn a profit, and I commend Attorney General James and the staff of both DFS and the Attorney General’s office for their hard work on this important matter.”

In August 2019, Attorney General James and Superintendent Lacewell reached a settlement with New York-based hedge fund Atalaya Capital Management LP, for its role in funding and assisting Vision and its affiliates in their illegal business. Under that settlement, Atalaya paid New York $250,000 in civil penalties, agreed to abide by injunctive terms intended to prevent future wrongdoing, and paid more than $2.5 million in restitution to consumers, which is now being distributed to more than 100 New York homeowners in the form of monetary payments and payment cancellation.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Noah Popp of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia and Chief Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Meghan Faux. The Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection is overseen by Chief Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Christopher D’Angelo and First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.

Additional attorneys handling this matter for the Department of Financial Services included Deputy Superintendent Peter C. Dean and Supervising Attorney in the Consumer Protection and Financial Enforcement Division Cynthia M. Reed.

Cabral Simpson, 43, Belleville, New Jersey, was arraigned today on charges that he engaged in a conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud that resulted in potential losses in excess of $1 million.

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

Simpson, a real estate investor, and his conspirators engaged in mortgage fraud by creating fake bank statements and fake employee verification records for buyers of properties and transferring money into the buyers’ bank accounts for payment of the deposit for a property. Simpson and his conspirators submitted fraudulent mortgage loan applications, supporting documents, and closing documents on behalf of the buyers. They induced lenders to issue more than $1 million in loans, resulting in defaults and exposing the lenders and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to more than $1 million in potential losses. 

The conspiracy and wire fraud counts with which Simpson is charged each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gross loss or gain caused by the offense.

Simpson appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre in Newark federal court. He is charged by indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of wire fraud.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito made the announcement.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi, with the investigation leading to the indictment.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Kogan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Cybercrimes Unit in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Judge issues arrest warrant for Montgomery County man charged with mortgage fraud  – Patricia Duckett cries as she recounts how she lost her home of nearly 20 years, Nov. 6, 2019, in District Heights, Md. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post) Patricia Duckett cries as she recounts how she lost her home of nearly 20 years, Nov. 6, 2019, in District Heights, Md. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post) By Rachel Chason Jan. 3, 2020 at 9:51 a.m. PST A Prince George’s County Circuit Court judge issued an arres

Source: Judge issues arrest warrant for Montgomery County man charged with mortgage fraud – The Washington Post