Charges Filed In 2 Mortgage Fraud Cases

admin —  April 17, 2009 — 32 Comments

Charges have been filed in two separate cases against predatory real estate companies and loan brokers who conspired to deceive first-time home buyers as well as homeowners seeking to refinance their existing mortgage. In the first case, Joseph Villaescusa, 46, Whittier, California, Isabel Gutierrez, 49, Tony Gutierrez, 52, Downey, California and Ralph Rodriguez, 39, Huntington Beach, California were each charged with nine criminal counts, including conspiracy to commit grand theft, grand theft, and forgery. If convicted on all counts, the defendants each face a maximum penalty of 9 years in jail and $18,000 in fines.

Both suits were filed by Los Angeles City Attorney, Rocky Delgadillo, the city’s chief prosecutor.

Beginning as early as April 2006, the defendants, acting as representatives of Norwalk-based Century 21 Allstars, Inc., deceived and induced five first-time home buyers to apply for and obtain mortgage loans under a fictitious government program that would supposedly pay the difference between what the victims said they could afford, and the actual monthly mortgage.

The defendants targeted low-income, Spanish-speaking victims by flooding Spanish language radio with ads voiced by Isabel Gutierrez that touted the nonexistent government program.

Four separate sets of victims contacted the defendants in response to the radio ads and expressed their desire to Isabel Gutierrez to purchase a home through the non-existent government program. Isabel and Tony Gutierrez – both licensed real estate brokers for Century 21 Allstars – met with the victims and asked how much they could afford in monthly mortgage payments.

The Gutierrez’s assured the victims that the government would assist them in paying the difference between what they could afford, and what their monthly mortgage payments would be. Relying on the promise of free financial assistance, the victims agreed to purchase homes that ranged in price from $409,000- $470,000.

The victims were also told that in order to qualify for the program, they needed to purchase a house from a set of five that were shown to them by Tony Gutierrez.

The defendants chose dilapidated homes they couldn’t sell, in lower-income neighborhoods, and then presented them to the victims as the only homes eligible under the government assistance program. By representing both the buyers and the sellers, they were able keep the truth from either party, all while driving up the sales price – increasing their commissions and broker fees.

The defendants promised to sweeten the deal by offering the services of Tony Gutierrez – who is also a contractor – who would perform necessary repairs to the dilapidated houses by folding the cost of the repairs into the new home loans.

Once a victim agreed to purchase a home, the defendants falsified and forged loan applications by overstating the victim’s income, without the victim’s knowledge, in order to guarantee approval of the loan. These falsified closing documents were drafted in English, while the victims spoke and read only Spanish.

To date, all of the victims have been forced into foreclosure, and all but one lost their homes.

Villaescusa is the President of Maxres, Inc, which does business as Century 21 Allstars. Identical charges were filed against the real estate businesses Maxres, Century 21 Allstars, and Gutierrez & Associates.

In the second case, John DiBona, 22, and Layne Nocera, 53, Northridge, California,  Wayne Stimson, 55, Bakersfield, California, Garnik Poghosyan, 30, Van Nuys, California and Vighen Mkrtoumian, 29, Glendale, California were each charged with 21 criminal counts, including conspiracy to commit grand theft, grand theft, forgery, and false advertising. If convicted on all counts, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 18½ years in jail and $35,000 in fines.

On April 1, 2007, DiBona, a loan consultant for Liberty One Financial Group in Van Nuys, “cold called,” Harbor Gateway homeowners Michael and Stephanie Armijo and offered to refinance an existing mortgage loan on their home. Along with Nocera, a Liberty One Sales Director, DiBona, in a classic bait-and-switch, deceived the Armijos into applying for and obtaining refinancing which turned out to be in excess of the amount, interest and monthly payments they were led to believe they would receive from the lender.

The victims later learned that their signatures had been forged on many of the loan documents, and that their income and assets had also been changed on many of the documents. By the time the victims were made aware of all of the discrepancies and tried to get assistance with problems, they were threatened with foreclosure and suffered substantial financial losses.

Mkrtoumian, a notary public, notarized some of the forged or falsified loan documents. Mkrtoumian was not present when the Armijos signed the loan documents. Stimson’s name and title appear on some of the forged and falsified documents, though the Armijos say they never spoke with him. Stimson is also a loan broker at Liberty One Financial. Prosecutors also filed charges against Liberty One Financial Group.

Today’s filings send a clear message: The City of Los Angeles will not tolerate predatory businesses seeking to make a quick buck by deceiving homeowners who are trying to save their homes in today’s precarious economy,” said Delgadillo. “In addition, we will seek out and hold accountable to the fullest extent of the law those who contributed to our current financial mess by preying on lowincome, first-time home buyers.

City Attorney Delgadillo encouraged residents of Los Angeles who think they may have been victimized by predatory loan brokers and real estate businesses to contact the City Attorney’s Office using a specially-created email address:

In announcing today’s filings, City Delgadillo was joined by Pastor Herrera, the Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs; Joel Sayres, the Directing Attorney of the Consumer Law Project at Public Counsel, Robert Levanthal of Public Counsel, and John Fogarty of the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.


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32 responses to Charges Filed In 2 Mortgage Fraud Cases

  1. Johnny Gilroy May 23, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Can anybody tell me what is the outcome of this case ? I still see Tony & Isabel living the highlife and selling real estate

  2. they are guilty…

  3. I know by fact that Joe,was not aware of the fraud being commited in his office by Isabel, Tony, and Ralph.I was close to all of them. Many of the time the deals where done late,on weekends,at clients houses an they where provided with other phone numbers to contact in case of information. I am not happy what is going on but it had to happen. I Saw and hear clients craying because they couldn’t make their payments. While Isa, Tony and Ralph would enjoy life. Daniel Alvarez has his dirty clothing in the closet.

  4. Century 21 agent April 24, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    What’s the latest with this case? We all Joe V. is dropped from the case because he is an innocent broker. Whats going on with Tony & Isabl Gutierrez, Ralph, George Bricenio, and Danile Alvarez?????

  5. I was reading about Daniel Alvarez and he is a shrimp on the barbie. His new girlfriend is really pretty, too bad he still attempts to cheat on her. He tried picking up on me, but I would never give a small shrimp on the barbie like him any chance. I have standards. And he does’nt fall into my category. Get a life Daniel Alvarez!!!!

  6. Michael since you are a victim dont you have direct contact with the district attorney. CAn you keep me updated I’m curious to find out what happens next. ARe Tony and Isabel spending alot of money to stay out of jail. I know there home is paid off and there cars are paid off. There rolling hard.

  7. I’m one of the victims from the Liberty One Financial Group mortgage fraud case. Is there anyway I can be updated on the progress of the case.

    Thank You,
    Michael Armijo

  8. September 17, 2009 at 6:03 am

    I saw Tony and Isabel driving around town in a brand new 2010 Escalade ESV dark green. It also has there pictures on it with brand new rims. Wow, life is good for them. I going to go scam some innocent buyers now so I can trade my pinto for a 2010 Escalade.

  9. Escrow,Loans and realty Office staff July 14, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Chris we are saddened that George cannot buy you the new Louis Vutton purse. So we are all going to pitch in and get you one. Actually George never bought purses or lavish gifts 4u . You had to buy them for yourself How sad! Sorry. George wins the title King of Fools

  10. I love George

  11. Who is Ralph Rodriguez

  12. He’s a joke of a person!

  13. Artie the one man Party May 22, 2009 at 11:05 pm


  14. F**k that punk, his a fool. I had a one nite stand with Chris too in the back of the escalade.

  15. He called me KID too. I think he calls everyone kid,even his wife he has no education.

  16. I saw George Briscnio and he called me “What up Kid”
    Who the hell does he think he is to call me “Kid” F**K that punk a** fool!

  17. Prospective Buyer May 12, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    How myuch is the building on telegraph road selling for? Im ready to buy it and become the#1 C21

  18. I also have to add that I would never try to recruit George Briscenio, his a loser (DOES NOT PRODUCE) and I have no idea why Joe Villaescusa still has him around. he’s dead weight. I guess Joe like paying for Georges overhaed costs.

  19. C21 rival agent May 9, 2009 at 12:58 am

    I’m so glad to see that there is finally chaos happening at Allstars. This will now take the spotlight of of my office. I have the best office in L.A. I’m glad Tony and Isabel never came to work for me when I was recruting them. Thank you.

  20. The Womanizer May 8, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Christina! RELAX! you ain’t all that! You can stay with george! But he is still a fool who just yaps his mouth a bit too much and we all think you deserve alot better. Common, aren’t you tired of supporting his stupid a**?

  21. Mike the agent May 7, 2009 at 12:00 am

    My broker told me today that Joe Villaescusa is going to court tomorrow to plead not guilty. I know Joe is innocent because he is just the owner of the company,so I’m sure he will get the charges dropped. But Tony and Isabel forget it they are toasted. My broker is happy that Joe has to dish out milions to defend himself and now he believes that many agents from C21 Allstars will leave and come to his new Downey office so he could be the #1 Century 21. My broker needs to practice what he preaches and God bless Allstars.

  22. Downey Realtor May 1, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    David Sariana is Happy because this is Happening to Joe? A Celebration! Maybe he should practice what he preaches.WWJD? tisk tisk C 21 A Better Service, you may have celebrated too soon. Discuss how that behavior is bad on Sunday in church.

  23. South Gate REaltor May 1, 2009 at 4:21 am

    David Sariana is so happy this is happening to C21 Allstars. He gave everyone in his office Martinelli’s apple cider to celebrate with. C21 A Better SErvice is the best C21 around. David Sariana keeps his realtors from doing any type of fraud becasue they all go to church together,where David preaches how not to commit fraud becasue it is not God like to do so.

  24. I agree with Steve P all the way April 25, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    I agree with Steve P. he is right. There was fraud commited all the way around and any way you look at it ,there was fraud. Rocky Delgadillo is running for a higher office next year. So this case will catapult him over the top to show that he does not put up with nonsense fraud cases like Tony and Isabel. I heard Isabels commercials on the radio and it is a shame she misled the buyers by saying that the govt. programs will help them with the differance of the payment. /i beleive that is called radio and wire fraud. One count carries 20 years. I understand that there home is free and clear. The govt. will sieze the home now,because all the money was made fraudently. Go Rocky Go!!!

  25. Cristina Briseno April 21, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Who ever wrote comment #7, sounds like your jealous and your in love with his wife. By the way use spell check before posting a message you LOSER!!!

    Get off the computer and get a job and a girl, and by the way go take some break dance lessons LOSER, I know you can’t read, these cases are about Isabel, Tony and Ralph!!! Stay on the subject this isnt a jealousy blog site!!!

  26. Baldwin Park Boys April 20, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    What is going with George Briscenio from Allstars. He made a little bit of $$$ scaming buyers. They need to take him down for being stupid.That is right straight out stupid with a mouth that talks from her to Alaska.I feel sorry for his wife, she needs a real man in her life. A man like me who will pamper here and treat her like a queen. She supports George and she needs a man to buy her the world and love her like the woman she is. George is too much into his break dancing. and the little dealshe closed he did are all FRAUD.

  27. Tony and Isabel knew what they were doing. I heard tere commercials on the radio all the time. She paid $1500 for every 30 minute spot. She has her manision in Downey paid off. Her white S600 Merecedes is paid off. She made millions scamming these people. The Federal govt. and HUD should pick this case and prosecute them to the full extent. She was a snob who never said “hi” to anybody. As far as Joe Villaescause he is INNOCENT. Yes, he is just the owner of the company and his charges will be dropped, I guarentee it. As far as Raplh he closes anything and everything. That is how Daniel Alvarez made so much money and drives a Bently. The Feds need to look into all of Ralphs loans and take him and Daniel Alvarez from Amreican Team Properties down. Daniel is a arrogant Napolean complex syndrome individual.

  28. A Concerned Citizen April 19, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Interesting to see how you are now using lame arguments to counter my point. No I am not an underwriter. You were. I googled your email address and sure enough, you were one. Your past work needs to be audited.

    As the case is with all bigots, they just don’t get it. Nobody is talking about political correctness. Using that counter argument is and old, overused, dumb, lame way to deflect heat. All applicants should be looked at the same way, and should not be looked at any more or less. Underwriters need to perform due diligence in their work.

    Re. who suffered bigger losses, well, that’s a no brainer. The banks did. And they asked for it by giving 100% financing while not requiring any solid proof of income. But to say, as you did, that the borrowers in question in this case suffered no loss is asinine. They now have their credit destroyed for years, and if they put any down or paid for closing costs, then that money is lost. You may think that’s ok since they were non-English speaking borrowers, correct?

    Don’t try to patronize anyone here. Bigots don’t get that privilege.

  29. Wake up and take off your rose colored glasses! Who do you think suffered the greatest financial losses in these fraud cases? If you believe these low income accomplices lost actual cash down payments in excess of the subsequent losses suffered by the mortgage lenders, you are kidding yourself. I am confident these fraud loans were structured with no actual cash from these low income accomplices. Accordingly, it was the lenders that suffered the greatest losses and were essentially robbed by these fraudsters.

    You sound like you must be one of the idiot, loser, unskilled underwriters that approved one or more of the 400K mortgages to low income non-english speaking applicants secured by dilapidated houses in low income neighborhoods. You seem as you are now after the fact, trying to defend your stupid underwriting decision that anyone with an IQ over 75 would have immediately recognized as being fraudulent.

    It is these idiot underwriters that should have been more concerned with their fiduciary responsibilities and less concerned with being politically correct. Now, thanks in some part to these stupid underwriters, it is US taxpayers of all races, nationalities, ages, gender, sexual orientation, religions, etc that are now responsible for an even larger national debt.

    When an applicant is a minority, the underwriter is not supposed to extend any further latitude than they otherwise would extend to a non minority applicant, much less give minority applicants a free pass to commit fraud. When an underwriter allows political correctness to play a role in their underwriting decisions, they are essentially reverse discriminating against applicants who they consider to be a member of the majority.

  30. I was told about the fraud conducted by century 21 all stars, and it upset me to know that these people took advantage of these non-English speaking individuals. As for the idiot who said the mortgage people were victims I agree with SteveP Maybe someone should audit his/her past work.

  31. A Concerned Citizen April 18, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    SteveP, are you implying that the article had the purpose of misleading readers? First, last I checked, the perpetrators cannot be illegals as you state, because they hold real estate licenses, and these require finger prints and proper ID. Second, there are lots of brokers and mortgage-rescuers targeting the Hispanic community due to a higher level of ignorance of the law, language, and unfounded trust in other Hispanics (like Asians trusting Asians more than other groups). Third, the buyers were victims of fraud. Do you understand that? They had their signatures forged on loan applications, which is a federal crime. They were told one thing, when reality was different.

    You claim to be an expert in mortgages or something like that. God forbid you were ever an underwriter, because I get the feeling you did not treat everyone equally based on ethnicity. Maybe somebody who knows you should audit your past work, and if any type of discrimination is found, should bring you up on charges.

  32. With all due respect, this article is misleading at best. Specifically, this bunch of illegals did not “target low income spanish speaking victims.” Instead, they recruited low income spanish speaking accomplises to assist them in ripping off mortgage lenders who were the actual “victims” in this crime spree. You could also argue with all the tax payer funded bail outs, that US tax payers were also victimized by these criminal illegals.

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