Kesha Danine Fortune Haynie, 41, Chico, California, was convicted of two counts of mail fraud in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme. The guilty verdict was returned by a federal court jury in Sacramento, California, after a six day trial before United States District Judge Edward J. Garcia.
According to testimony presented at trial, Haynie operated Empire Mortgage, Chico, California. From April 2007 through December 2007, Haynie originated fraudulent loan applications in connection with a cash-back to buyer mortgage fraud scheme. Evidence showed that Haynie promised homebuyers kickbacks from a Chico homebuilder in exchange for purchasing homes. The day after the close of escrow, the homebuilder would write checks averaging $41,000 to the conspirators.
Haynie and her co-conspirators would then pay the buyers up to $29,000 of the kickbacks and divide the remainder among themselves. The kickbacks were not disclosed to lenders, escrow officers, or home appraisers. Evidence also showed that Haynie participated in submitting false documents to mortgage lenders in order to obtain the loans.
Following the verdict, Judge Garcia noted that the evidence of defendant’s guilt was “overwhelming” and that defendant was “in denial.” The judge remanded Haynie into the custody of the United States Marshals. She is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Garcia on July 6, 2012 at 10 a.m.
The maximum statutory penalty for a violation of mail fraud is 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced the conviction.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the Butte County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Russell L. Carlberg and S. Robert Tice-Raskin prosecuted the case.