Uto Essien, 45, the ringleader of a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud operation, has been convicted by an Adams County jury on four felony charges all related to the use of shell corporations and false invoices to skim money off the top of nearly three-dozen real estate transactions, announced Colorado Attorney General John Suthers.
Essien’s conviction resulted from a 45-count, 10-person indictment the Office of the Attorney General obtained in March 2008. The indictment alleged that Essien and his colleagues fraudulently obtained $10.9 million in mortgages to buy 34 properties in Adams, Arapahoe, Denver and Jefferson counties between April 28, 2004 and Dec. 29, 2006. Essien and his colleagues then skimmed $1.1 million from the real estate transactions, which they said paid for repairs the shell corporations never did to the properties. Essien and his colleagues used false invoices from the shell corporations to justify the payments.
According to the indictment, Essien, while acting as a real estate broker, negotiated the property acquisitions and directed the buyers to create the shell corporations.
Four of Essien’s co-defendants have pleaded guilty in their respective cases stemming from the indictment. Essien’s remaining co-defendants are expected to go to trial later this summer.
The jury convicted Essien of violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, a class-two felony; two counts of forgery, both class-five felonies; and theft by receiving, a class-four felony. His conviction followed a seven-day trial.
“Essien’s operation was one of the most expansive and heinous mortgage fraud rings we’ve seen in Colorado,” Suthers said. “His conviction sends a strong message that these operations, whatever their size, will not go unnoticed in Colorado. Today’s verdict is a significant victory for the people of Colorado.“
The Essien case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant Attorney General Janet Drake and Adams County Senior Deputy District Attorney Yvette Werner.