Rony Alberto Aguilar-Hecker, 33, Miami, Florida; Reinaldo Perez-Sanchez, 44, Miami and Colombia; Pablo Atouro Aponte-Torres, 44, San Juan, Puerto Rico; Fabio Salazar, 54, Miami and Colombia; Roger Omar Nunez-Murillo, 60, Miami Beach; Idalmis C. Arias, 27, Miami Beach; Ericson Perez, 42, Cumming, Georgia; and Juan Carlos Lopez, 42, Miami, have been charged for their roles in a mortgage fraud scheme.
According to a fifteen count indictment returned by a federal grand jury sitting in West Palm Beach, the above eight individuals were involved in making false statements to banks to obtain mortgage money to purchase five pieces of property in the Versailles subdivision of Wellington, Florida, between January 2007 and October 2007. The defendants include licensed mortgage brokers, title agents, and straw buyers.
The indictment and informations allege that the defendants and straw buyers engaged in a scheme which resulted in property being sold twice in one day and nearly doubling the value of that property during that one day. The defendants found property which was ostensibly sold to a straw buyer at the price listed to the public for sale through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). These straw buyers brought no money to the closings, became the owners of the properties for less than 24 hours after which they transferred the titles to second purchasers. For these efforts the straw buyers were paid approximately $10,000.
A second closing occurred in each instance and the properties were “sold” by the straw buyers to the second purchaser for values which increase the properties prices by as much as 60%. The second purchasers obtained mortgages by making false claims as to their income, assets and liabilities on applications to obtain mortgage money from Washington Mutual Bank and that money was used, in part, to pay off the original sellers of the properties. At the conclusion of these second sales, the second purchasers were paid as much as $437,000 from the mortgage money for their efforts and some of the defendants received as much as $155,000 for each property involved.
Mortgage payments on the properties in this scheme were made for less than a year to Washington Mutual Bank and in some instances were abandoned, which caused the bank to move to foreclose on the property and take ownership of the homes. The result was that the bank lost much of the mortgage money by the actions of these defendants. A total of more than $8.5 million in mortgage money was obtained from Washington Mutual Bank through this conspiracy and scheme to defraud.
Jeffrey H. Sloman, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, and J. Thomas Cardwell, Commissioner, State of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulations, announced the fraud charges.
“Through hard work and coordination with our law enforcement partners, the United States Attorney’s Office will continue to prosecute those who commit bank and mortgage fraud,” said Jeffrey H. Sloman, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, Secret Service and the State of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ellen Cohen and Carolyn Bell.
Charges in a Complaint, Indictment or Information are merely accusations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.