Terrill “Terry” Meisinger, 74, Seal Beach, California, is scheduled to be arraigned on federal fraud charges related to a mortgage rescue scheme in which he made false promises to the distressed homeowner, filed fraudulent bankruptcies to delay foreclosure and rented the property to third parties as the foreclosure proceedings were delayed.
The defendant is scheduled to be arraigned and enter a plea this afternoon to two counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. These charges are contained in a grand jury indictment that was returned on June 25.
Meisinger has been in federal custody since his arrest on a criminal complaint on June 11, 2014.
The indictment alleges that Meisinger defrauded the distressed homeowner by inducing him to sign a quitclaim in exchange for promises that included negotiating a short-sale agreement with his lender that would free the homeowner from his mortgage on a property on Monte Alban Drive, North Las Vegas, Nevada. But, instead, Meisinger caused a deed of trust to be recorded on the property, which was followed by a fraudulent bankruptcy on behalf of the person who supposedly now held an interest in the home. Meanwhile, Meisinger rented out the home to another person while foreclosure proceedings were stayed as a result of the fraudulent bankruptcy.
“Meisinger repeated the process of causing the recording of deeds of trusts in the names of various lenders whose identities he controlled and causing the filing of bankruptcies on behalf of those lenders to delay the foreclosure proceedings, while collecting rents on the Monte Alban Property,” according to the indictment.
While the indictment discussed only one property, the criminal complaint alleges that Meisinger engaged in more widespread conduct: “Based on the evidence, Meisinger has collected approximately more than $1.5 million in illicit rent payments on more than 100 properties and never made any mortgage payments on those properties. Further, he caused more than 300 bogus bankruptcy petitions to be filed in the names of numerous individuals who had no knowledge their identity was being used.”
The wire fraud charges in the indictment related to conduct that took place after a federal judge in 2012 ordered Meisinger to pay $5 million in civil penalties in connection with allegations of a massive fraud targeting homeowners, renters and lenders. In addition to ordering him to pay the fine, United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips also prohibited Meisinger from participating in the home finance or real estate industries for 10 years. Meisinger was also barred from filing bankruptcy petitions (see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/2012/104.html). The criminal conduct alleged in the indictment is nearly identical to the conduct alleged in the government civil lawsuit.
Special Agent in Charge James Todak of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Inspector General stated that, “the arrest of Terry Meisinger sends an important message to real estate professionals that seek to rob vulnerable home owners of their money and homes through loan modification and foreclosure rescue scams. We recommend that home owners seeking mortgage assistance should first contact HUD-approved counseling agencies to better identify scams and avoid future cases of suspected fraud.”
The wire fraud charges alleged in the indictment each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison.
The criminal case against Meisinger is the result of an investigation by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General (HUD-OIG).