Mortgage Fraud Ringleader Sentenced to 10 years

Rachel Dollar —  May 23, 2017 — Leave a comment

Karim Akil, also known as Scott Kinney, 50, Vallejo, California, was sentenced to 120 months in prison for conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud and money laundering.  Akil pled guilty on July 10, 2012, admitting his role as the organizer and leader of a mortgage fraud scheme.

According to Akil’s plea agreement, he knowingly conspired with others to commit wire fraud, involving the purchase of properties located in the Northern and Eastern Districts of California.  Akil acknowledged he directed co-defendants to create and submit loan applications that contained materially false information to financial institutions.  Akil acknowledged that the conspiracy involved using the names of fictitious persons and straw buyers, the creation of purchase contracts that reflected inflated sale properties above the original sales price, and the submission of fraudulent loan applications for 100 percent financing based upon the properties’ inflated purchase prices.  Akil agreed that more than 18 properties were involved in the conspiracy to defraud, and agreed that he was an organizer and leader of five or more participants in the conspiracy.  Akil directed an escrow officer to distribute “profits” to co-conspirators and to businesses that he owned or controlled, including Hiddenbrooke Mortgage and Marsh Group.

Mr. Akil enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, with outrageous expenditures,” said Michael T. Batdorf, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-CI. “Akil left a path of destruction, from properties that went into default and foreclosure, to straw buyers whose credit was ruined, to an escrow company that went out of business.  Although this sentence cannot reverse the damage caused by Akil and his co-conspirators, it highlights the ongoing commitment of IRS-CI and our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those involved in these types of crimes.”

On October 29, 2009, a federal grand jury indicted Akil and six co-conspirators, for their alleged roles in this extensive scheme.  For his part, Akil was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, 34 counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, and 16 counts of money laundering, in violation of 18. U.S.C. § 1957(a).  On July 10, 2012, Akil pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and one count of money laundering.

While out on pretrial release, between late 2012 and early 2013, Akil became involved in a series of new acts, which involved violating the terms of his plea agreement.  During the sentencing hearing, the Honorable Phyllis J. Hamilton, Chief U.S. District Judge, found that Akil breached his plea agreement in seven different ways.  These acts constituting breaches of the plea agreement included convincing a San Francisco property owner to take out a loan against a valuable property she had inherited.  The lender foreclosed on the property after Akil received $493,514 in net proceeds from the loan and loan payments were not made.  In a second alleged scheme, Akil also defrauded a victim in Southern California by promising to provide a $1.1 million stand-by letter of credit.  Akil received $197,600 in fraudulent proceeds from that victim.  That victim never received a legitimate letter of credit and never got his money back from Akil or anyone else involved in the alleged scheme.  In a third alleged scheme, Akil also forged numerous documents to gain control of a Southern California property and did a cash-out finance without the owner’s knowledge or permission.  Akil channeled almost $270,000 in net proceeds from the alleged fraudulent activity in that scheme through his other financial accounts, and spent all the money.

Judge Hamilton emphasized at the sentencing hearing that “individuals’ lives [  ] are ruined or significantly impacted by people who are gaming the system in some way, who are gaming the individuals.” Judge Hamilton found Akil’s “behavior to be entirely disturbing and suggestive of not only a failure to accept responsibility for his criminal conduct but a level of incorrigibility.”   The judge also stated, “I ponder whether or not any sentence will deter Mr. Akil.”  Judge Hamilton voice her concern that Akil’s statements to the Court during the sentencing hearing did not reflect true remorse for having ruined people’s financial lives.

In additional to the prison term, Judge Hamilton ordered Akil to serve a three-year period of supervised release, and ordered him to submit his person, residence and any property under his control to a search by Probation Officers or law enforcement officers at any time, with or without cause.  Akil will begin serving the sentence immediately.  The restitution hearing, scheduled for July 12, 2017, will determine the amounts Akil will be ordered to pay to the victims of his crimes.

Co-defendants Amy Schloemann (Akil’s former wife), Darnell Thomas, and Louisa Wonda Kidd each pleaded guilty to related crimes and were sentenced for their respective roles in the scheme.  On June 12, 2013, Schloeman was sentenced to 36 months for her role in the scheme and on November 7, 2012, Thomas was sentenced to 36 months of imprisonment for his role in the scheme.  On November 20, 2013, Kidd received a sentence of 36 months of probation for her role.  Co-defendants Michelle McGuire and Kashka Clay have entered guilty pleas and are scheduled to be sentenced on June 28, 2017.

U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf made the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina McCall prosecuted the case with the assistance of Allen Williams, Noble Hughes, Vanessa Vargas, and Kathleen Turner.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by IRS-CI with the assistance of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

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Rachel Dollar

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