Sergio Caro, 37, Miami, Florida, has been sentenced on charges of mail fraud and money laundering in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme. Caro was sentenced to 37 months in prison and ordered to pay $671,166.36 in restitution to victim mortgage lenders. This amount represents the total losses resulting from fraudulent mortgages obtained by Caro and other co-conspirators on houses bought during 2005-2006 in Palm Beach and St. Lucie Counties, Florida.
As previously reported on Mortgage Fraud Blog, this investigation began in May 2006, when law enforcement discovered marijuana grow house operations in numerous homes in Port St. Lucie, Florida. During the investigation, many of those homes were linked to co-defendant Manuel Caro. Manuel Caro was charged in 2006 for his participation in the marijuana grow house operation, but fled after being released on bond. He remains a fugitive.
Continued investigation led to the discovery of additional marijuana grow houses in St. Lucie, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade Counties, Florida. According to the superseding indictment, most of these homes were bought with funds obtained through mortgage fraud committed by defendant Hugo Oliva, a mortgage broker, through his company, MBA Mortgage Services, Inc., and his co-defendants, including Sergio Caro. To execute the scheme, the defendants submitted loan applications to mortgage lenders that contained false information, including false bank statements, W2 forms, pay stubs, verifications of deposit and verifications of employment.
The defendants in the mortgage fraud scheme were charged with various counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, drug charges, and laundering drug-related money through the purchase of the homes. Two additional co-defendants, Ilan Reyes, 37, and Orlando Dominguez, 44, both of Miami, Florida, have also pled guilty. Sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for Monday, December 20, 2010.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Daniel W. Auer, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, and Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, Miami Field Division made the announcement. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Mr. Ferrer also thanked the Port St. Lucie Police Department, the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Marshals Service for their work on this investigation. The case arose from the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) long-term investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore Cooperstein.