Brenda Felix, 52, Los Angeles, California, is accused of orchestrating a $13 million real estate scam involving more than 20 properties. Felix and several alleged co-conspirators are due to be arraigned next week at a downtown Los Angeles courthouse.
Nelson Cabral, 52, and Bryan Deters, 50, both of California also are expected to be arraigned. Cabral is charged with 72 counts and Deters is charged with 67 counts. The men are accused of participating in a string of illegal transactions.
The crew is charged in an eight-defendant, 76-count criminal complaint that includes charges of grand theft; attempted grand theft; procuring and offering a false or forged instrument; forgery; perjury; and failure to file income tax returns.
Lessa Patten, 37, and Cynthia Emerson, 58, also are charged in the case. Patten, Emerson and Felix are sisters. Patten and Emerson are accused of posing as straw buyers. A straw buyer is a purchaser who knowingly acquires an item or service for someone who is unable to personally make the transaction. In addition to purportedly posing as a straw buyer, Patten allegedly created an alternate identity and recruited others to participate in the scam. Patten is charged with 37 counts and Emerson faces seven counts.
Arrest warrants have been issued for two others charged in the case: Valentine Awosika, 55, is charged with nine counts; and James Jackson, 62 is charged with three counts.
Over the course of roughly nine months, Felix allegedly set up a network of straw buyers to obtain financing for the purchase of some 23 properties, many in the Antelope Valley, California. The properties each ranged between $500,000 and $700,000. Cabral is accused of falsely verifying employment for the phony buyers and Deters, a mortgage broker, allegedly helped process their loans. Eight financial institutions were defrauded.
Bail for Felix is recommended at more than $13 million. If convicted as charged, she faces a maximum penalty of more than 72 years in state prison. Bail for Cabral and Deters is recommended at more than $10.5 million each. If convicted, Cabral faces a state prison term of more than 70 years and Deters faces more than 65 years.
Felix, Deters and Jackson also are charged with 19 additional counts in a pending real estate fraud case.
The announcement was made by Deputy District Attorney Walter Mueller of the Real Estate Fraud Section, Los Angeles County California.