Leonard E. Williams, 52, Sacramento, California, was sentenced to over seven years in prison for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and two counts of money laundering, in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme. At sentencing, U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb stated that one factor he used in imposing the sentence was Williams’ outburst in front of the jury during trial.
Williams was found guilty on July 24, 2014, by a federal jury after a six–day trial.
On the last day of the trial, Williams began shouting at the jury about his case. Judge Shubb asked him to stop talking until the jury could be dismissed. Williams, nevertheless, continued yelling at the jury as they filed out. Judge Shubb characterized the outburst as “unacceptable” and said that Williams had intended to cause a mistrial and mislead the jury about his defense.
According to evidence presented at trial, from late 2006 into 2008, Williams conspired with others to carry out a mortgage fraud scheme in the Chico and Sacramento areas using his companies Diamond Hill Financial and Bay Area Real Estate Holdings. The scheme resulted in the issuance of more than $2 million in home loans, with most of the buyers ultimately defaulting.
To carry out the scheme, Williams and his partner Joshua Clymer recruited underqualified buyers, including family and friends, to purchase homes with promises of cash back, no money down, and illusory equity in the homes. Williams and others assisted these home buyers in securing loans with fraudulent loan applications that contained lies about the buyers’ employment, income, assets, and intent to occupy the homes as a primary residence. In most cases, at Williams’ suggestion and encouragement, the loan applications falsely stated that the buyers worked at Diamond Hill Financial, and Williams himself maintained the charade by confirming this false information when lenders called to verify it.
The loan applications also listed false assets and were accompanied by various forged documents, which increased the amount of the loans to the buyers, which in turn increased the profits of the fraud to Williams, Clymer, and others. The profit to Williams and Clymer varied from $5,000 to over $30,000 per transaction, with the two of them often splitting the proceeds.
Prior to trial, Clymer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on February 9, 2015.
United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced the sentence.
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’s Major Crimes Unit. Williams is the last of 14 defendants who have been convicted of mortgage fraud offenses in connection with this and related cases. Others who already been convicted and sentenced include William E. Baker, Shane Burreson, Christopher M. Chiavola, Carlos Chamorro, Eric Clawson, Niche Fortune, Garret Gililland, Kesha Haynie, Remy Heng, Nicole Magpusao, Brandon Resendez, and Anthony Symmes. Twelve of the defendants pleaded guilty. Juries have convicted the two defendants who went to trial, Williams and Haynie. Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher S. Hales and Audrey B. Hemesath prosecuted the case.