Olga Palamarchuk, 45, Rancho Cordova, California was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison; Pyotr Bondaruk, 44, Sacramento, California, was sentenced to five years and 11 months in prison; Vera Zhiry, 35, Sacramento, California, was sentenced to three years and one month in prison; and Peter Kuzmenko, 37, West Sacramento, California, was sentenced to five years and 11 months in prison, two years of which is to be served consecutively to the 19-year sentence he received for another mortgage fraud scheme.
In July 2015, after a three-week trial, a federal jury found the four defendants guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud related to a mortgage fraud conspiracy. Palamarchuk and Bondaruk were also found guilty of making false statements to a financial institution and money laundering. Zhiry was also found guilty of money laundering.
According to evidence presented at trial, Palamarchuk, a loan officer at Capital Mortgage Lending Inc., recruited Bondaruk to purchase two houses using 100 percent financing and to refinance and obtain a home equity line of credit on one of the houses. In order to qualify for the loans, Palamarchuk and Bondaruk submitted fraudulent loan applications to lenders, falsely stating Bondaruk’s employment, income, assets, and intent to occupy the homes as his primary residence.
In addition, the defendants fraudulently inflated the value of the properties and diverted the excess funds to themselves. For example, Peter Kuzmenko received $32,378 in seller’s proceeds for landscaping and pool work his company Pete’s Pool Service purportedly performed on a house without a pool. Similarly, Zhiry received $100,000 to pay off a purported debt owed by the sellers that the sellers denied existed, and Zhiry provided $40,000 of that money back to Olga Palamarchuk.
“The mortgage crisis damaged the national economy and the Sacramento region was especially hard hit. Without individuals like these defendants, who lied on loan applications, lied to lenders and continued to lie to federal agents, this could not have happened,” United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner stated. “We will do what is necessary to ensure that those who took advantage of a system based largely on trust and honesty are held accountable.”
“This case can be summarized in one word: greed. The defendants wanted to make a quick buck and they did that by committing fraud,” said Supervisory Special Agent Dan Bryant of the FBI’s Sacramento field office. “The sentences imposed by Judge Nunley send a clear message to others in our community thinking about breaking the law for financial gain; it’s not worth it.”
“Today’s sentencing closes the chapter on this conspiracy of fraud,” said Thomas McMahon, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “The damage caused by these defendants cannot be overstated. Fraud in the mortgage industry has played a major role in almost crippling this nation’s economy. IRS-CI will continue to investigate individuals who engage in deceptive and fraudulent behavior, fueled by greed.”
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Lee S. Bickley and Heiko P. Coppola are prosecuting the case.
These sentences bring to 11 the number of defendants sentenced this week for mortgage fraud offenses. On Monday, Bakersfield residents Lucia Yolanda Chavez, 37, was sentenced to four years in prison, and Joseph Chavez, 41, was sentenced to three years in and were ordered to pay $1.8 million and $1.44 million in restitution respectively. On Tuesday in Sacramento, Hubert Rotteveel, 52, of Dixon, was sentenced to three years and four months in prison; Peter Kuzmenko, 37, of West Sacramento, was sentenced to 19 years in prison; Aaron New, 41, of Sacramento, was sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison; Nadia Kuzmenko, 36, formerly of Loomis, was sentenced to eight years in prison; and Edward Shevtsov, 51, of North Highlands, was sentenced to eight years in prison.