Robinson Dinh Nguyen, 31, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill, in Fresno, California, to Conspiracy to Commit Mail, Wire and Bank Fraud in connection with his employment as a real estate agent for Crisp & Cole Associates, aka Crisp & Cole Real Estate. Five other persons, including Kevin Sluga, a CPA who handled accounting matters for Crisp & Cole; Jerald Teixeira and Christopher Stovall, former loan officers for Crisp & Cole‘s lending affiliate, Tower Lending; Megan Balod; and Leslie Sluga have previously pleaded guilty in related cases.
In pleading guilty, Robinson Nguyen admitted that, during the period from January 2004 to September 2007, he and certain other individuals at Crisp & Cole and Tower Lending, and others, executed a scheme to defraud mortgage lenders and banks, by submitting materially false and fraudulent statements in mortgage loan applications and related documents to obtain loans for straw buyers and others purchasing real property.
Nguyen admitted that he and others bought, sold and/or re-financed real estate in order to skim equity from the properties. The defendant and others did this through an elaborate use of straw buyers and other borrowers, including his co-defendants and others, to buy, refinance, and sell properties among each other through Crisp & Cole. Through this scheme they rapidly inflated the nominal value of the properties, while typically using close to 100% financing in order to extract the inflated equity amounts on each transaction.
In perpetrating this fraud, the defendant caused false loan applications to be submitted to lenders with material misstatements concerning the borrowers’ income, assets, and employment, and false statements concerning the borrowers’ intent to reside in the properties as owner-occupiers, among other material misstatements and omissions. Many of the properties purchased with the loan proceeds were subsequently foreclosed upon after loan payments were not made when due.
Robinson Nguyen is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on January 27, 2011, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. The maximum statutory penalty on each mail fraud charge is thirty (30) years in prison and a criminal fine of $1,000,000. However, the actual sentence will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables, and any applicable statutory sentencing factors.
This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stanley A. Boone and Kirk E. Sherriff are prosecuting the case.
This law enforcement action is part of the work being done by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. One component of the FFETF is the national Mortgage Fraud Working Group, co-chaired by U.S. Attorney Wagner.
To further the prosecution of mortgage fraud cases arising out of the southern half of the Central Valley, in 2009 the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI created a Mortgage Fraud Task Force in Fresno, comprised of both federal and local law enforcement agents and prosecutors.