Monique N. Brady, 44, East Greenwich, Rhode Island, whose business specialized in preserving the current condition of foreclosed homes for resale has been charged for allegedly operated a scheme whereby she raised and pocketed millions of dollars from investors, often times family members, friends, and business associates, by misrepresenting to them that she needed to raise tens of thousands of dollars for various repair projects. In return for their investment, investors were promised a return of 50 percent of the profit.

According to Court documents, it is alleged that Brady misrepresented projects and solicited multiple bids for significantly more money than an individual project required. Brady performed relatively menial tasks such as grass mowing, snow removal, boiler service, etc., for as little as $20, but represented the bids to investors as full-fledged rehabilitation projects costing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It is alleged that Brady, owner and operator of MNB LLC, often convinced investors to invest substantial amounts of money claiming she had been awarded Freddie Mac rehabilitation projects, when in fact the projects were associated with real estate entities other than Freddie Mac. Brady allegedly used the Freddie Mac name to provide more credibility to her fraudulent solicitations.

A review of bank and other financial records revealed that Brady allegedly received approximately $10,076,291 in investments from 32 individuals based on numerous false and fraudulent representations. Many of these investors had close and personal relationships with Brady, including close friends, her step-brother and the former nanny for her children. The complaint charges that numerous investors suffered substantial harm as a result Brady’s fraudulent conduct, including an elderly woman who lost nearly all of her life savings and another elderly man with Alzheimer’s disease who lost his life savings to Brady.

As part of the alleged scheme, Brady often paid back some of the money she received from one investor with monies received from another. By the time the scheme ended after its discovery in the summer of 2018, 23 individuals had allegedly lost approximately $4,495,237 to Brady.

Brady appeared today before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond on a Criminal Complaint charging her with wire fraud.

The announcement was made by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Aaron L. Weisman, Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Kristina O’Connell, and Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division Joseph R. Bonavolonta.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee H. Vilker and Tax Division Trial Attorney Christopher P. O’Donnell.

A Criminal Complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Peter Cash Doye, 43, San Diego, California, a financial executive was sentenced today to 15 years in prison for his role as the “driving force” in a massive real estate loan scheme in which he and his co-conspirators stole nearly $50 million dollars from San Diego residents and lenders.

His co-defendant, Raquel Reid, 40, San Diego, California, a notary public and real estate broker, was previously sentenced to 65 months for her role in the fraud. The court also ordered Doye and Reid to pay more than $43 million in restitution to the victims.

According to the indictment and the evidence introduced at trial, the defendants defrauded lenders into making enormous loans against four multi-million dollar mansions in La Jolla and Del Mar, California then used forged documents to make it appear that the loans had been paid off, thereby enabling them to secure additional loans from new lenders who believed the mansions were owned “free and clear.”

Doye, a senior executive at the real estate investment firms Conix, Inc. and Variant Commercial Real Estate (“VCRE”), negotiated the financing from unsuspecting lenders and investors based on a host of lies about the collateral used to secure the loans.  To pull off the scam, Doye, Reid, and their co-conspirators created forged real estate lien “releases” and recorded fraudulent records at the San Diego County Recorder’s Office, complicating the chain of title for these homes.  Reid notarized the forged documents, helping to make the fraudulent paperwork appear authentic.

Doye’s business partner, Courtland Gettel,43, Coranado, California and Arizona attorney Jeffrey Greenberg, 67, Tucson, Arizona, who testified at the trial on behalf of the government, previously pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme and are serving sentences of 135 and 51 months, respectively. Gettel and Greenberg were also ordered to pay more than $43 million in restitution to victims, and to forfeit the proceeds of the crime.  Gettel was the owner of Conix and VCRE, which refurbished single-family homes, purchased distressed debt, and purchased and refurbished commercial real estate projects.

During trial, the government proved that Gettel, Greenberg, and Doye acquired the high-end homes in La Jolla and Del Mar, California by claiming they would be used as luxury rentals and investment properties, although in fact, Gettel and Doye lived in the properties along with their families. When they needed money to fund other business deals, Gettel and Doye began negotiating with new lenders, pretending that the first loans never existed or had already been paid off.  Greenberg admitted that he used his expertise as a lawyer to generate and record fraudulent records, making it appear that prior loans were paid off and helping to close the fraudulent deals.

In late 2014, the lenders began to uncover the fraud and learn that their secured interests in the properties were worthless.  In response to questions from these lenders, Doye, Reid and Gettel denied knowing anything about the fraudulent loans, and created yet more fraudulent documents to cover their tracks. For example, Reid destroyed her notary book and cut up her notary stamp, and then falsely reported to the California Secretary of State that her book had been lost.

This crime was a colossal $50 million swindle by a greedy, brazen thief who squandered the stolen money on lavish parties in Las Vegas, penthouse apartments, private jets and abundant drug use,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “The defendant’s extravagant lifestyle was funded by the hardships of his victims, who suffered health problems, emotional stress, financial uncertainty and strain on relationships. This sentence underscores the significant harm victims to and the integrity of our financial system, and is a testament to the hard work of FBI agents and prosecutors Emily Allen and Andrew Young.”

Today, final justice has been served in this multi-million dollar loan fraud scheme. All four defendants, including Doye, who was sentenced to 15 years in custody today, are no longer able to perpetrate their deceit and lies to fulfill their personal greed,” said FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner.   “The FBI remains committed to pursuing fraud schemes that erode the integrity of our financial system.”

During the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge William Q. Hayes described the defendant as “cold blooded” and the “driving force” behind an “overwhelmingly selfish act” that was motivated by “pure unmitigated greed.” He scolded the defendant for having a “callous attitude” toward his victims, and remarked about his testimony during trial. “After you said your name, I’m hard-pressed to remember anything you said that was truthful,” Judge Hayes said.

The pair was indicted on September 19, 2017 on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, and aggravated identity theft.  Reid was also charged with lying to a federal agent.  On November 20, 2018, after a two-week trial, a jury returned a guilty verdict on all charges against both defendants.

 

Jaime Mayorga, 40, and Ruben Rodriguez, 42, both of Sacramento, California were found guilty, on Tuesday, after a six-day trial, on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

On July 14, 2011, Mayorga, Rodriguez, and five others were charged by indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The defendants, including Mayorga and Rodriguez, worked for Delta Homes & Lending, a Sacramento, California, based real estate and mortgage lending company that falsified home loan applications to obtain mortgage loans for borrowers, many of whom did not and could not qualify for a loan without the lies submitted by Delta employees. Mayorga and Rodriguez were real estate agents and loan officers. The now defunct Delta Homes was founded by co-defendant Moctezuma “Mo” Tovar, 49, Sacramento, California.

According to court documents, Delta opened one office in 2003 and eventually had multiple offices in Sacramento, with additional branch offices in Woodland, Yuba City, and Southern California. Rodriguez and Mayorga both started working at the original Delta office on Enterprise Drive in Sacramento. Later, they both moved to a branch on Franklin Boulevard, and Rodriguez went on to work at other Delta branches, including a large branch office located on Howe Avenue.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Delta targeted the Latino community with advertisements in Spanish that heralded the company’s ability to obtain home loans for borrowers who otherwise would not qualify for a mortgage. In addition to advertisements in which Delta claimed to be “Hispanics Serving Hispanics,” Delta employees solicited clients at flea markets and by going door-to-door through the community.

In order to obtain mortgages, the defendants falsified information on loan applications regarding the clients’ income, occupation, and personal savings. Straw buyers were sometimes used when the true borrower did not have a sufficient credit score to qualify. The defendants also deposited money into borrowers’ bank accounts to meet the lenders’ requirement that the borrower have money on hand, taking the money back after acquiring the verification of deposited funds that the lenders also required.

The evidence at trial showed that the defendants’ fraud was also personally lucrative. During the investigation, Rodriguez estimated that in 2006 alone, he earned more than $400,000. Similarly, Mayorga told agents that although he earned a salary when he started at Delta, he shifted to commission-based compensation and then earned between 50 and 85 % of the brokerage fees. Mayorga stated that he earned more than $500,000 in 2005.

The aggregate sale price of the homes involved in the conspiracy was in excess of $10 million, and as a result of the conspiracy, mortgage lenders and others suffered losses of at least $4 million.

Co-defendants Tovar, Manuel Herrera, 39, Davis, California; Sandra Hermosillo, 57,  Woodland, California; and Jun Michael Dirain, 46, Antelope, California all pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Christian Parada-Renteria, 43, Woodland, California pleaded guilty to two counts of concealing felonies related to the wire fraud conspiracy.

Rodriguez and Mayorga are scheduled to be sentenced on August 6, 2019 by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez. The court has not yet set a sentencing date for Tovar, Herrera, Hermosillo, and Dirain. Parada-Renteria was sentenced to serve one year in prison.

Each of the defendants faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentences, 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.

U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott made the announcement.

U.S. Attorney Scott stated: “Mayorga and Rodriguez took advantage of members of the Latino community who hoped to become homeowners and manipulated the real estate process for personal gain. As so often occurs in these cases, the result was losses to the financial institutions and neighborhoods burdened with foreclosed properties. We are grateful for the diligence and professionalism of the FBI in investigating this case.”

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian A. Fogerty and Justin L. Lee are prosecuting the case.

Robert Pena, 69, the president and founder of a Falmouth mortgage company was sentenced yesterday in connection with defrauding the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae) out of approximately $2.5 million.

The charges arise out of Pena’s scheme to defraud Ginnie Mae, a government-run corporation charged with making housing more affordable by injecting capital into the U.S. housing market. Ginnie Mae, which is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), guarantees the timely payment of principal and interest to investors in bonds backed by government-sponsored mortgage loans, such as those offered by the Federal Housing Administration and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

MSI contracted with Ginnie Mae to pool eligible residential mortgage loans and then sell Ginnie Mae-backed mortgage bonds to investors. MSI was responsible for servicing the loans in the pools it created, including collecting principal and interest payments from borrowers, as well as loan payoffs, and placing those funds into accounts held in trust by Ginnie Mae, which would ultimately pass them along to investors. Among other things, Ginnie Mae required issuers like MSI to provide regular reports to Ginnie Mae concerning the status of the loans in the pools.

Beginning in 2011, Pena began diverting money that borrowers were sending to MSI.  Specifically, Pena deposited high-dollar, loan-payoff checks into bank accounts unknown to Ginnie Mae and then used those funds for personal and business expenses. Pena also diverted borrowers’ escrow funds and mortgage-insurance premiums for his own use. In total, Pena took approximately $2.5 million, which Ginnie Mae then had to pay to investors whose investments it had guaranteed. Pena also attempted to cover up his scheme by providing false reports to Ginnie Mae about the status of the loans MSI was servicing. These false reports made it appear that the loans were still in repayment.

Pena’s co-conspirator, Gilda Andrade, who worked for Pena at MSI and helped Pena file false reports with Ginnie Mae, cooperated with the government’s investigation. Andrade pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of making a false statement to HUD in December 2017, and was previously sentenced to one year probation and ordered to pay $108,240 in restitution to Ginnie Mae.

Pena was sentenced to 32 months in prison, two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $2.5 million in restitution to Ginnie Mae. In October 2017, Pena pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with one count of conspiracy and six counts of wire fraud.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Regional Office; and Joseph Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. The U.S. Attorney’s Office wishes to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General; and the Falmouth Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. LaMacchia prosecuted the case.

Laurence Savedoff, Esq., 44, New City, New York, who was convicted of misprision of a felony, was sentenced today for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme.

Between 2008 and 2009, the defendant represented The Funding Source (“TFS”), a mortgage bank, as the settlement attorney. The defendant’s law office was used to execute the closings for the eight real estate transactions for properties located in Bronx, New York, which involved efforts by five other individuals fraudulently to obtain mortgages that were insured by FHA on behalf of unqualified borrowers. For all eight transactions, the defendant caused the signing of the HUD-1 settlement statement and FHA Addendum to the HUD-1 knowing that the information therein was false.

Although he did not know the full extent of the scheme, the defendant became aware that others were using him to help defraud financial institutions. The defendant failed to notify authorities, including federal authorities, of these other individuals’ use of fraud to obtain funds from TFS. Furthermore, the defendant took affirmative steps to conceal the fraud by signing the HUD-1 Settlement Statement and FHA Addendum, or by having his paralegal sign them. Those documents were later forwarded by TFS, which he knew would be sent to financial institutions, including M&T Bank located in the Western District of New York. One duty of the defendant in his role as settlement attorney was to certify that the disbursements written on the HUD-1 accurately reflected the disbursements in the transactions. The HUD-1 and other financial documents were sent to financial institutions to show that the borrowers met FHA’s requirement of providing a 3-3.5% down payment. The defendant was aware that the borrowers in all eight transactions did not provide that down payment. Nevertheless, the defendant, or his paralegal at this direction, certified on the HUD-1 and in the FHA Addendum that the disbursements listed therein were accurate.  As a result of the aforementioned facts, financial institutions, including M&T Bank, purchased the fraudulently originated loans from TFS. https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdny/pr/attorney-sentenced-his-role-mortgage-fraud-scheme

The total amount of the mortgage loans for these eight transactions was $4,800,007.

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. made the announcement.

The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service under the direction of Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge, Boston Division, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brad Geary; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gary Loeffert.  Additionally, the New York State Department of Financial Services assisted with the investigation.

George French Jones, Jr., 50, Santa Monica, California, was sentenced to 116 months in prison today after previously pleading guilty to mail fraud and identity theft charges in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme involving two waterfront residential properties in Broward County, Florida.

According to information disclosed in open court, in early 2018 Jones identified two residential properties in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which Jones fraudulently pledged as collateral in order to obtain mortgage loans from a private lender. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=George+French+Jones%2C+Jr

The two Broward County properties were owned by corporate entities that Jones had no affiliation with and which were in fact owned by independent third parties. To execute his fraudulent loan scheme, Jones created fake identification documents and email addresses in order to impersonate officers of the corporate owners of the two properties. Jones then submitted bogus loan applications and other documents to a private lender in which he pretended to be the owners of the Fort Lauderdale properties. As a result of this scheme, Jones defrauded the private lender out of approximately $1.7 million dollars.

Jones was also ordered to pay $1,824,581 in restitution.

Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) made the announcement.

U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of the FBI.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Browne.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Nalina Sombuntham is handling the asset forfeiture aspects of the prosecution.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

 

Caliber Homes Loans Inc. (Caliber) will pay $2 million and undertake affordable loan modifications for affected Massachusetts homeowners,. The settlement resolves allegations that Caliber failed to help borrowers avoid foreclosure and instead gave homeowners unaffordable loan modifications with ballooning monthly payments they could not afford.

In an assurance of discontinuance filed in Suffolk Superior Court, Caliber has agreed to provide restitution and loan modifications to homeowners in Massachusetts and change its business practices to comply with state law.

The AG’s Office alleges Caliber violated the Massachusetts Act Preventing Unlawful and Unnecessary Foreclosures, known as “35B,” a landmark law passed in 2012 that protects certain borrowers from foreclosure. The law requires creditors to make a good faith effort to avoid foreclosure for borrowers whose mortgage loans have unfair subprime terms.

The AG’s Office began its investigation after observing through the AG’s consumer assistance work that Caliber predominantly offered struggling homeowners loan modifications with payments that were temporarily lower and only covered the interest due on the loan each month. After a few years, however, borrowers would see their mortgage payments balloon to an amount even higher than what they originally were paying and could not afford, setting borrowers up to again face foreclosure.

The AG’s investigation found that Caliber favored these short-term, interest-only loan modifications over permanent, affordable modifications even in cases where a permanent modification was commercially reasonable. The company also routinely gave borrowers the runaround about missing documents required for the loan modification review process.

Under the terms of the settlement, Caliber will provide loan modification relief to Massachusetts borrowers who applied for modifications and were foreclosed upon due in part to Caliber’s conduct. Caliber will also institute a new loan modification program and review Massachusetts borrowers currently on interest-only or short-term modifications to provide them a more sustainable, affordable modification.

Attorney General Maura Healey made the announcement today.

Mortgage servicing companies have a duty to help Massachusetts residents avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes,” said AG Healey. “Our settlement with Caliber will provide relief to borrowers across the state and sends a clear message that we will protect homeowners when companies break the law.”

The AG’s Office has been a national leader in securing restitution and other relief for borrowers from banks and servicers. The office has obtained recoveries and other relief from Morgan StanleyGoldman SachsRoyal Bank of ScotlandCitigroupJPMorgan ChaseCountrywideFremont Investment & LoanOption OneHSBCDitech, Nationstar Mortgage, Shellpoint Mortgage Servicing, PHH and others on behalf of Massachusetts homeowners.

Consumers with questions or concerns about deceptive or abusive foreclosure and loan servicing practices can call the Attorney General’s consumer hotline at 617-727-8400 or file a complaint with the office.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Michael Lecaroz and Lisa Dyen and Division Chief Max Weinstein, all of the AG’s Consumer Protection Division.

 

Constantine Giannakos, 51, Hicksville, New York, a disbarred attorney, pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing $40,000 from a Hicksville couple selling their home.

In early 2017, a Hicksville homeowner and her ex-husband hired the defendant to represent them in the sale of their home. The complainants and their home purchasers entered a sales contract on February 4, 2017.

At the time of the contract signing, the buyers’ attorney provided a $40,000 down payment check made out to ‘Constantine Giannakos, as attorney’ that was deposited into Giannakos’ escrow account and held there until the closing.

Between February 4, 2017 and the scheduled closing date of September 27, 2017, the defendant and one of the complainants met at public locations including a Dunkin’ Donuts on Newbridge Road in Hicksville. The defendant claimed he had an office in Syosset, New York but in fact, did not.

Following the closing on September 27, 2017 the defendant was supposed to remit the $40,000 down payment to his clients but never did so. The complainants made several subsequent requests for the money via phone and text messages but never received the money.

The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office received the case on October 24, 2017, after receiving a complaint from the homeowners. A review of the escrow account showed Giannakos spent the $40,000 at Home Depot, on credit card payments, department stores, mortgage payments, and unrelated business expenses.

Giannakos pled guilty to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a D felony) before Judge Robert Bogle. If the defendant provides $40,000 restitution at the time of sentence on May 10, 2019 he is expected to be sentenced to five years’ probation; however, if the defendant does not pay restitution, he is expected to be sentenced to one to three years in prison.

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas made the announcement.

Instead of faithfully representing his clients, this defendant stole $40,000 from them and spent it at the Home Depot and on personal credit card payments,” DA Singas said. “When an attorney abuses their client’s trust and steals from them, my office will hold them accountable for their crimes.”

Giannakos was disbarred for another matter on August 21, 2012.

Since 2012, the NCDA has prosecuted more than 20 attorneys for misconduct.

If you believe you may have been a victim of an unscrupulous attorney, please call the NCDA’s Tip Line at 516-571-7755. Anyone interested in hiring an attorney is encouraged to check that person’s standing and registration with the Office of Court Administration.

Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Contreras of DA Singas’ Financial Crimes Bureau is handling this case. Eric Franz, Esq. represents the defendant.

 

Kirk Lawrence Brannan, 65, Lake Jackson, Texas pleaded guilty today for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme, admitting he conspired with others from 2005 to 2009 to execute a scheme to defraud Wells Fargo Bank and other lenders.

At the hearing, the court held that, in committing the crime, Brannan had used sophisticated means and had employed his special skills as an attorney and real estate agent. The court noted that Brannan had created false HUD-1 settlement forms and title documents that purported to show the sale of three of his properties to his children at grossly inflated prices. These HUD-1 forms then became the three comparable sales that appraisers relied upon in over-valuing the rest of Brannan’s beach home properties which Brannan then sold through the fraud scheme at inflated prices.

Brannan sold 10 beach homes in the Freeport/Surfside, Texas area to “straw buyers” at exorbitant prices. Other co-conspirators recruited straw buyers who created loan applications with misrepresentations that lenders relied upon in deciding to make the mortgage loans. The applications contained misrepresentations of the buyer’s address, employer, income and expenses. The applications also suggested the buyers were much better credit risks than they actually were. Brannan admitted he paid kickbacks to co-conspirators each time one of the beach homes was sold to a straw buyer.

The beach properties were sold at two to three times the appraised values. The mortgage lenders, including Wells Fargo Bank, were induced to lend the inflated amounts for the purchases through flawed or fraudulent appraisals which were based on comparisons Brannan manufactured to further the scheme.

Brannan created settlement statements that suggested he sold three of his properties to his children at exorbitant prices. Appraisers relied upon these “sales” as comparable sales in appraising Brannan’s remaining properties sold to straw buyers. As a result of the fraudulent appraisals, he and his co-conspirators were able to inflate the values for his properties and deceive the lenders into approving home loans at those exorbitant amounts.

All of the straw buyers defaulted on the mortgages, and all 10 of the beach properties ended up in foreclosure.

The fraudulent mortgage loan scheme resulted in a loss of $5,317,350 to Wells Fargo Bank and the other lenders. Brannan paid $2,401,368 to his co-conspirators as part of the scheme.

Previously released on bond, Brannan was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Co-conspirators Chucoboie Lanier, 42, David Lee Morris, 56, and Derwin Jerome Blackshear, 52, all of Houston, Texas previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme. Lanier received a sentenced of 36 months while Morris was ordered to serve a 42-month prison term. Blackshear is set for sentencing April 9, 2019.

Chief U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal handed Brannan a 36-month sentence to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release.

In imposing the sentence, Judge Rosenthal balanced Brannan’s honorable military service and other aspects of what, up to the time of the fraud, had been an exemplary life, with the tremendous damage mortgage fraud had done to the U.S. financial system and economy and the fact that Brannan had been a knowing and willing participant in such a scheme. She also pointed out that some individuals much less sophisticated than Brannan had suffered severe economic harm as a result of Brannan’s scheme.

Brannan was further ordered to pay $5,317,350 in restitution. A money judgement was previously entered in the amount of $2,401,368.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

The Texas Department of Public Safety and the FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Johnson and Michael Day are prosecuting the case.

 

Brian Thomas Sapp, 38, formerly of Alexandria, Virginia was sentenced today to nine years in prison for operating a Ponzi scheme that took in approximately $9 million and defrauded over 20 victims of $1.8 million.

According to court documents, Sapp from 2014 through 2018, committed wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in executing the scheme. Sapp preyed on his closest friends and their families, many of whom described Sapp as a “best friend” and “like a brother.” He caused financial hardship to many victims, including those with special needs children.

To execute the scheme, Sapp set up Novus Properties, claiming he had identified distressed single family homes in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, which he would purchase and then resell to guaranteed buyers. All he needed was investor funds to finance the property flips. On hundreds of occasions, Sapp fabricated a sophisticated set of interlocking purchase, sale, guarantee, and HUD-1 settlement documents to induce victims to part with money. He stole real identities of sellers and buyers and digitally forged their signatures hundreds of times. Sapp bragged that he was “killing it” and “dominating the market.” In reality, he never closed a single deal.

Instead, Sapp used investor money to fund a lavish lifestyle, including golf trips, meals out, and attending wealth-building seminars. Sapp spent $80,000 to purchase and customize a Mercedes van that he outfitted with special rooftop satellite TV antennas and flat screen TVs. Sapp loaded the van with professional grilling equipment, tents, food and beverage service stations, and other amenities so that he could host elaborate tailgating parties at Penn State football games, where he ate and drank with his victims at their expense, unbeknownst to them at the time.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Matthew J. DeSarno, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga. Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell L. Carlberg prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:18-cr-446.