Berta Sanders, 61, Miami Lakes, Florida, a Certified Public Accountant, was sentenced before U.S. District Court Judge Paul C. Huck to 52 months’ imprisonment, 5 years of supervised release, and restitution in the amount of $31 million.
From approximately November 2005 through March 2008, Sanders conspired to submit false loan applications to Wells Fargo Bank (formerly known as Wachovia Bank) in order to obtain approximately $12 million in commercial lines of credit. Sanders promoted herself as someone who could help borrowers get approval for the lines of credit by preparing their loan applications.
Sanders prepared fraudulent loan applications on behalf of the borrowers, which contained false information about the borrower’s business income, assets, and accounts receivable. Sanders also prepared false tax returns, bank statements, and personal financial statements in connection with the line of credit applications. As compensation for preparing the false loan applications that were submitted to Wachovia Bank, the borrowers paid Sanders a fee of approximately 10% of the loan amount. Sanders then paid a portion of these fees to a Wachovia bank officer as compensation for his assistance in preparing and processing the fraudulent applications.
During this scheme, Sanders, conspired to obtain approximately $12 million in lines of credit from Wachovia Bank, which has resulted in approximately $10 million in losses to the bank. Sanders also admitted in court that between 2005 and 2008 she prepared additional fraudulent loan applications that have resulted in $19 million in losses to Wachovia. In total, Sanders is responsible for approximately $31 million in losses to the bank.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, and Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami Field Office, and Miguel Exposito, Chief, City of Miami Police Department announced the sentencing.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Secret Service, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations in Miami, and the City of Miami Police Department. The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Gregorie.
This law enforcement action is sponsored by the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force was established 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.