Philip Villasis, 41, and Ray D. Gata, 56, both of Chesapeake, Virginia, were indicted by a Norfolk, Virginia, federal grand jury on nine charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering for their roles in a foreclosure rescue scam involving straw buyers.
If convicted, Villasis faces a maximum penalty 150 years’ imprisonment and Gata faces 90 years’ imprisonment.
According to the indictment, from November 2006 until February 2011, Villasis and Gata engaged in a foreclosure rescue scheme that defrauded homeowners and mortgage lenders. Villasis promised homeowners that he could save them from foreclosure by arranging a sale of their homes to Gata and other straw borrowers. To further entice the homeowners, Villasis promised that they could remain in their homes after the sale, pay rent, and he would resell the homes back to them once they were more financially secure.
Villasis and Gata profited from this scheme by taking all of the proceeds from the home sales. To complete the scheme, Villasis and Gata executed false closing documents that showed the proceeds of the sale going back to the homeowners when, in fact, the proceeds were going to Villasis, Gata and the other straw borrowers. The homeowners received nothing from the sale of their homes while Villasis, Gata and others received in excess of $170,000. In almost every case, Villasis required the homeowners to pay more in rent to cover a larger mortgage, and he ultimately evicted these homeowners from their homes.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Dean Bryant, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation made the announcement after the indictment.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Melissa E. O’Boyle is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.