Uto Essien, 45, the ringleader of a Colorado based multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud operation, was sentenced by an Adams County judge to 30 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections. Essien, a Nigerian national, will be deported upon completion of his sentence.
As previously reported by Mortgage Fraud Blog, an Adams County jury convicted Essien in July 2009 on four felony charges all related to the use of shell corporations and false invoices to skim money off the top of nearly three-dozen real estate transactions. The charges were violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, a class-two felony; two counts of forgery, both class-five felonies; and theft by receiving, a class-four felony. His conviction followed a seven-day trial.
Essien‘s conviction stemmed from an indictment the Office of the Attorney General obtained from the Statewide Grand Jury in March 2008. The indictment alleged that Essien and his colleagues fraudulently obtained $10.9 million in mortgages to buy 34 properties in Adams, Arapahoe, Denver and Jefferson counties between April 28, 2004 and Dec. 29, 2006. Essien and his colleagues then skimmed $1.1 million from the transactions to pay for repairs to the properties that the defendants’ shell corporations never completed.
According to the indictment, Essien, while acting as a real estate broker, negotiated the property acquisitions and directed the buyers to create the shell corporations.
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced the sentencing.
The Office of the Attorney General also has successfully prosecuted nine of Essien‘s codefendants in the mortgage fraud ring. Each defendant has either pleaded guilty or been convicted following a jury trial.
Scott Hinkley (DOB: 2/21/1970) pleaded guilty on Dec. 12, 2008 to violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, a class-two felony, and forgery, a class-five felony. He was sentenced Feb. 12, 2009 to 10 years in community corrections.
Bradly Decker (DOB: 12/7/1980) pleaded guilty on July 24, 2009 to theft by receiving, a class-three felony. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 24, 2009.
Idara Ekiko (DOB: 2/28/1978) pleaded guilty on Aug. 5, 2009 to computer crime, a class-three felony. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 30, 2009.
Cheri Decker (DOB: 4/4/1976) pleaded guilty Aug. 26, 2009 to violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, a class-two felony, theft, a class-three felony, and forgery, a class-five felony. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 22, 2009.
Jennifer Wosley (DOB: 4/11/1975) pleaded guilty on June 16, 2008 to computer crime, a class-three felony. She was sentenced on Aug. 4, 2008 to eight years probation, to 200 hours community service, and drug and alcohol evaluation and treatment.
Jessica Caplan (DOB: 8/11/1969) was convicted of forgery, a class-five felony, during a jury trial. She is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 17, 2009.
Heather Etuk (DOB: 4/29/1977) pleaded guilty on Aug. 4, 2008 to forgery, a class-five felony. She was sentenced Sept. 29, 2008 to five years probation, $30,900 restitution, a 90-day suspended jail sentence and 100 hours of community service.
Jessica Decker (DOB: 3/26/1978) pleaded guilty on Oct. 7, 2008 to obtaining a financial device with a false statement, a class-one misdemeanor. She was sentenced Oct. 7, 2008 to two years probation and $88,000 restitution.
Enoh Etuk (DOB:11/28/1953) pleaded guilty on July 24, 2009 to theft, a class-one misdemeanor. She was sentenced on July 24, 2009 to two years probation, and ordered to pay $133,781 restitution.