Archives For California

Hooshang Noori, a loan broker who operated Finance for Americans, Corp, doing business as Pacific Realty, Lake Forest, California, was indicted on one count of wire fraud in the Central District of California.

According to the indictment, Noori submitted loan applications to Lone Oak Fund LLC, on behalf of his purported client M.G. and M.G.’s company, Noble Investments, LLC, to borrow $4 million for the purpose of buying commercial property in Los Angeles, California to be secured by a first deed of trust on a residence owned by M.G.  Noori, or a co-scheme, purporting to be M.G., directed the escrow company to distribute the loan funds to Noori’s company.  After escrow company representatives informed Noori that the funds could only be distributed to Noble Investments, Noori registered  “Noble Investments LLC” in Delaware and opened an account in the company’s name which he solely controlled.  Escrow was then directed to distribute loan funds to this account.

The funds were used to purchase a Mercedes Benz, pay off the lien on Noori’s residence, pay business expenses, among other things, and $3.6 million of the funds were transferred to a Emirates NBD bank account in the name of Four Directions Electronics, LLC.

 

Robert Jacobsen, 69, formerly of Lafayette, California, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges in connection with a scheme to use sham companies and collusive lawsuits to create the appearance that mortgage liens had been invalidated. The plea was accepted by the Honorable Maxine M. Chesney, U.S. District Judge.

According to the plea agreement, Jacobsen admitted that from October 2012 through October 2013, he executed a scheme to sell homes to buyers who were duped into believing that the homes had clear title.  Jacobsen admitted that he identified homes with mortgage deeds of trust that were recorded for the benefit of an entity called “American Brokers Conduit” (ABC).  Jacobsen also admitted that he registered a separate entity in New York called “American Brokers Conduit Corporation” (ABC Corp.).  Jacobsen then hired an attorney to file lawsuits against his phony ABC Corp., claiming that mortgages that had been originated by the real ABC were invalid.  Controlling both sides of the lawsuits, Jacobsen caused the attorneys to enter into stipulated judgments, agreeing that the mortgage deeds of trust were invalid.  The courts then entered judgment based on these fraudulent agreements, which Jacobsen recorded with county recorder’s offices.  The result created the impression that the deeds of trust had been legitimately invalidated by federal or state courts.

Jacobsen admitted that two homes that were the subjects of such lawsuits were in Danville, California, and San Francisco, California.  Jacobsen admitted that, after obtaining fraudulent judgments, he sold the Danville home for $540,000 and the San Francisco home for $1.2 million.  Jacobsen admitted that in both cases, his representations regarding the fraudulent court judgments had a natural tendency to influence the buyers to purchase the homes.

As part of his plea agreement, Jacobsen further admitted that proceeds from the sale of the Danville and San Francisco homes were used to pay for a 54’ Hylas sailboat that the government seized at a marina in Beaufort, North Carolina on November 18, 2015.  Jacobsen agreed that his interest in this sailboat was subject to forfeiture.

On December 5, 2015, a federal grand jury indicted Jacobsen charging him with 13 counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343 and 9 counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity (money laundering), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957.  Pursuant to the plea agreement, Jacobsen pleaded guilty to one count of each crime.

Jacobsen’s sentencing is scheduled for November 15, 2017.  Jacobsen faces a maximum sentence of 20 years of imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution, for the wire fraud count and a maximum sentence of 10 years of imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000, for the money laundering count.

The plea was announced by United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf.  Assistant United States Attorneys Benjamin Kingsley, Meredith Osborn, and Gregg Lowder are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Beth Margen and Bridget Kilkenny.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI and IRS-CI.

Martin Calzada, 30, Norwalk, California, was sentenced to nine years in prison; Juan Curiel, 38, Visalia, California was sentenced to three years and five months in prison; and Santiago Palacios-Hernandez, 48, Salinas, California, was sentenced to two years and seven months in prison, in connection with their roles in a mortgage elimination scam in Bakersfield, Visalia and Salinas, California.

On March 10, 2017, Calzada was convicted by a jury of one count of conspiracy and eight counts of mail fraud affecting a financial institution. In December 2014, Curiel and Palacios-Hernandez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud

According to evidence presented during Calzada’s four-day trial, the defendants conspired to defraud homeowners facing foreclosure. The three men operated Star Reliable Mortgage, which had offices in Bakersfield, Visalia, and Salinas, and targeted distressed homeowners with a fraudulent “loan elimination” scheme. Between approximately August 2010 and October 2011, Star Reliable charged clients an upfront fee for its services — ranging from $2,500 up to $4,500 — as well as monthly fees, for ostensibly helping the clients own their homes “free and clear.” Clients paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Star Reliable and at least $300,000 was transferred from Star Reliable into Calzada’s bank accounts.

To advance the scheme, Calzada, Curiel, and Palacios-Hernandez filed fraudulent documents at county recorders’ offices on behalf of the homeowner-clients. The fraudulent documents purported to replace the legitimate property trustees with fictitious trusts, all in an effort to “cloud title” and halt or stall the foreclosure process. The defendants and other employees working at their direction told Star Reliable clients to stop paying their mortgages. They also falsely represented that Star Reliable clients had $1 million in a U.S. government account that could be used to pay off a homeowner’s mortgage.

As part of their sentences, the defendants were ordered to pay more than $1.1 million dollars in restitution to former Star Reliable clients and mortgage loan owners Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which suffered financial losses upon the foreclosure of several clients’ homes.

Chief U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill handed down the sentences.  U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert made the announcement.These cases were the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher D. Baker and Patrick J. Suter prosecuted the cases.

Ronald Rodis, 52, Long Beach, California was sentenced to 41 months in prison, and Charles Wayne Farris, 56, Aliso Viejo, California, was sentenced to serve 47 months in prison for their roles in a multi-million dollar fraudulent mortgage modification scheme posing as a successful law firm.  Each of the men previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. In addition to the terms of prison imposed by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, Judge Carter ordered Farris to pay $3,534,927.43 in restitution and ordered Rodis to pay $3,826,947.95 in restitution.

Both defendants previously admitted that, between October 2008 and June 2009, they participated in a scheme to induce homeowners to pay between $3,500 and $5,500 for the services of the Rodis Law Group. These defendants and their co-conspirators made numerous misrepresentations regarding RLG’s ability to negotiate loan modifications from the homeowners’ mortgage lenders. They hid the involvement of Bryan D’Antonio, the true owner of the scheme. D’Antonio was a convicted felon and subject to a permanent injunction prohibiting him from having any involvement with any business that engaged in telemarketing or misrepresented the services it would provide.

These defendants played key roles in a scheme that victimized homeowners facing foreclosure during the mortgage crisis,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The defendants promised homeowners assistance saving their homes and modifying their mortgages, yet took their money knowing the promised benefits would never be realized.”

These two defendants used their legal knowledge and expertise to coerce and victimize vulnerable homeowners,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown of the Central District of California. “Rather than help these individuals as promised, their fraudulent scheme cost the victims millions of dollars.”

Rodis was a licensed California attorney who allowed his name to be used to lend legitimacy to the scheme. He recorded radio advertisements encouraging struggling homeowners to call RLG. In the ads, Rodis falsely claimed that RLG consisted of “a team of experienced attorneys” who were “highly skilled in negotiating lower interest rates and even lowering your principal balance.” In fact, RLG was a telemarketing operation that never had a team of experienced attorneys and rarely achieved any of the promised results for homeowners. During much of the scheme, Rodis was the only attorney at RLG. After his involvement with the RLG scheme, Rodis surrendered his law license.

Farris supervised a sales force of dozens of telemarketers who fielded calls from struggling homeowners. At Farris’s direction and using scripts that he helped create, the telemarketers made numerous misrepresentations regarding the companies’ ability to negotiate loan modifications from the homeowners’ mortgage lenders. For example, the telemarketers stated that RLG and America’s Law Group – a successor to RLG – had been in business for 11 years when in fact the company had only opened in October 2008. They falsely stated that RLG and ALG routinely obtained positive results for homeowners, including lower monthly payments, reductions in principal balance and lower interest rates. In fact, positive results were rarely achieved for any RLG or ALG clients. Telemarketers also falsely reiterated that homeowners would have a team of attorneys and real estate professionals assigned to their case.

On April 10, Bryan D’Antonio, the leader of the scheme, was sentenced to 97 months in prison followed by 12 months in a halfway house and was ordered to pay $3,826,977.95 in restitution.

This case was investigated by the FBI Los Angeles Field Office and prosecuted by Trial Attorney John W. Burke of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph T. McNally of the Central District of California.

MichaelMickey” Henschel, 68, Van Nuys, California was indicted on an 11-counts for his alleged role as the mastermind of a foreclosure-avoidance scam that targeted distressed homeowner.  He was arrested on federal charges that he orchestrated a bankruptcy fraud scheme that brought in more than $7 million from victims. Henschel was ordered detained pending trial.

According to the indictment unsealed after his arrest, Henschel owned a Van Nuys-based company he operated under several names, including Valueline. Henschel and several co-conspirators marketed illegal foreclosure- and eviction-delay services to homeowners who had defaulted on their mortgages and renters who were facing eviction. As part of the scheme, Henschel and the others allegedly convinced homeowners to sign fake grant deeds that purported to show the homeowners had conveyed an interest in their properties to fictional third parties.

Henschel and his co-conspirators allegedly filed bankruptcies in the names of fictional persons and entities to trigger the automatic stay provision of the Bankruptcy Code, which meant that foreclosure sales were stalled.

Henschel allegedly delayed evictions in a similar way, filing fraudulent documents in state eviction actions and sending similar documents to sheriff’s offices.

Henschel allegedly charged some homeowners large fees before agreeing to clear title to their properties, in addition to the monthly fees paid for the illegal services. During the course of the scheme, from October 2010 through July 2013, Henschel and his co-conspirators collected more than $7 million, according to the indictment.

The indictment charges Henschel with one count of conspiracy, eight counts of bankruptcy fraud and two counts of wire fraud.

Following his arrest, Henschel was arraigned on the indictment. He entered a not guilty plea, and a trial was scheduled for August 8, 2017.

If he is convicted of the charges in the indictment, Henschel would face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for each of the conspiracy bankruptcy fraud counts. The two wire fraud counts carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years.

The case against Henschel is the result of an investigation by the FBI and FHFA-OIG, which received assistance from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and the United States Trustee’s Office for the Central District of California.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kerry L. Quinn of the Major Frauds Section.

Sergey Shchirskiy, 41, Sacramento, California, was sentenced to seven years and 10 months in prison for his participation in two mortgage fraud schemes and one tax fraud scheme.

According to court documents, Shchirskiy pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in each of the two mortgage fraud cases, as well as one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of aggravated identity theft in the third tax fraud case.

According to the plea agreement, Shchirskiy was a loan processor in one mortgage fraud scheme (2:11-cr-514). Between April 2007 and November 2007, the co-conspirators used straw buyers to buy properties and then take out Home Equity Lines of Credit on the houses using fraudulent documents and statements. Shchirskiy helped to create the fraudulent supporting documents. All of the properties were foreclosed on, resulting in at least $1.5 million in losses to lenders.

According to the plea agreement in the second mortgage fraud scheme (2:12-cr-060), in April 2007, Shchirskiy recruited straw buyers to purchase a houses based on fraudulent loan applications. The applications gave false information about the buyer’s employment, income, assets, and intention to occupy the properties. The properties were foreclosed upon and resulted in a loss of more than $1.2 million to lenders.

According to the plea agreement in the tax fraud scheme (2:14-cr-198), between March 2011 and April 2011, Shchirskiy conspired with others to obtain false tax refunds by submitting fraudulent claims using the identities of various individuals, at least eight of which were stolen. Shchirskiy claimed Earned Income Tax Credit based on false claims of employment from California’s In-Home Supportive Services program. Shchirskiy and his co-conspirators made approximately 80 attempts to file fraudulent tax returns, attempting to receive $661,286 in fraudulent returns from the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS ultimately issued approximately $88,728 in fraudulent refunds.

U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced the sentenced and U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley presided.  The cases were the product of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Heiko Coppola and Michele Beckwith prosecuted the cases.

Kevin Frank Rasher, 45, Coto de Caza, California, plead guilty to 12 counts of mail fraud relating to his operation of a fraud scheme that took $2.2 million from distressed homeowners through false promises that he could help them avoid foreclosure by obtaining modifications to their mortgages. Rasher has been in custody since his arrest one year ago.

In a plea agreement filed in federal court, Rasher admitted that, between 2011 and March 2016, he falsely told distressed homeowners that he was an employee of HUD and/or an attorney, and that the homeowners had been approved for a reduced mortgage payment or interest rate. Rasher then instructed the homeowners to mail their mortgage payments to one of his businesses, claiming that he would forward the money to the homeowners’ mortgage lenders. Instead of forwarding the money to the mortgage lenders, Rasher deposited the money into his bank accounts and used it for his own personal expenses.

Rasher admitted that he fraudulently obtained approximately $2.24 million from more than 500 victims.

Rasher pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton, who is scheduled to sentence the defendant on September 29. Rasher faces a statutory maximum sentence of 240 years in federal prison.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General; the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); the United States Postal Inspection Service; the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of the Inspector General; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The case against Rasher is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Rosalind Wang and Robert J. Keenan of the Santa Ana Branch Office.

Karim Akil, also known as Scott Kinney, 50, Vallejo, California, was sentenced to 120 months in prison for conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud and money laundering.  Akil pled guilty on July 10, 2012, admitting his role as the organizer and leader of a mortgage fraud scheme.

According to Akil’s plea agreement, he knowingly conspired with others to commit wire fraud, involving the purchase of properties located in the Northern and Eastern Districts of California.  Akil acknowledged he directed co-defendants to create and submit loan applications that contained materially false information to financial institutions.  Akil acknowledged that the conspiracy involved using the names of fictitious persons and straw buyers, the creation of purchase contracts that reflected inflated sale properties above the original sales price, and the submission of fraudulent loan applications for 100 percent financing based upon the properties’ inflated purchase prices.  Akil agreed that more than 18 properties were involved in the conspiracy to defraud, and agreed that he was an organizer and leader of five or more participants in the conspiracy.  Akil directed an escrow officer to distribute “profits” to co-conspirators and to businesses that he owned or controlled, including Hiddenbrooke Mortgage and Marsh Group.

Mr. Akil enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, with outrageous expenditures,” said Michael T. Batdorf, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-CI. “Akil left a path of destruction, from properties that went into default and foreclosure, to straw buyers whose credit was ruined, to an escrow company that went out of business.  Although this sentence cannot reverse the damage caused by Akil and his co-conspirators, it highlights the ongoing commitment of IRS-CI and our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those involved in these types of crimes.”

On October 29, 2009, a federal grand jury indicted Akil and six co-conspirators, for their alleged roles in this extensive scheme.  For his part, Akil was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, 34 counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, and 16 counts of money laundering, in violation of 18. U.S.C. § 1957(a).  On July 10, 2012, Akil pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and one count of money laundering.

While out on pretrial release, between late 2012 and early 2013, Akil became involved in a series of new acts, which involved violating the terms of his plea agreement.  During the sentencing hearing, the Honorable Phyllis J. Hamilton, Chief U.S. District Judge, found that Akil breached his plea agreement in seven different ways.  These acts constituting breaches of the plea agreement included convincing a San Francisco property owner to take out a loan against a valuable property she had inherited.  The lender foreclosed on the property after Akil received $493,514 in net proceeds from the loan and loan payments were not made.  In a second alleged scheme, Akil also defrauded a victim in Southern California by promising to provide a $1.1 million stand-by letter of credit.  Akil received $197,600 in fraudulent proceeds from that victim.  That victim never received a legitimate letter of credit and never got his money back from Akil or anyone else involved in the alleged scheme.  In a third alleged scheme, Akil also forged numerous documents to gain control of a Southern California property and did a cash-out finance without the owner’s knowledge or permission.  Akil channeled almost $270,000 in net proceeds from the alleged fraudulent activity in that scheme through his other financial accounts, and spent all the money.

Judge Hamilton emphasized at the sentencing hearing that “individuals’ lives [  ] are ruined or significantly impacted by people who are gaming the system in some way, who are gaming the individuals.” Judge Hamilton found Akil’s “behavior to be entirely disturbing and suggestive of not only a failure to accept responsibility for his criminal conduct but a level of incorrigibility.”   The judge also stated, “I ponder whether or not any sentence will deter Mr. Akil.”  Judge Hamilton voice her concern that Akil’s statements to the Court during the sentencing hearing did not reflect true remorse for having ruined people’s financial lives.

In additional to the prison term, Judge Hamilton ordered Akil to serve a three-year period of supervised release, and ordered him to submit his person, residence and any property under his control to a search by Probation Officers or law enforcement officers at any time, with or without cause.  Akil will begin serving the sentence immediately.  The restitution hearing, scheduled for July 12, 2017, will determine the amounts Akil will be ordered to pay to the victims of his crimes.

Co-defendants Amy Schloemann (Akil’s former wife), Darnell Thomas, and Louisa Wonda Kidd each pleaded guilty to related crimes and were sentenced for their respective roles in the scheme.  On June 12, 2013, Schloeman was sentenced to 36 months for her role in the scheme and on November 7, 2012, Thomas was sentenced to 36 months of imprisonment for his role in the scheme.  On November 20, 2013, Kidd received a sentence of 36 months of probation for her role.  Co-defendants Michelle McGuire and Kashka Clay have entered guilty pleas and are scheduled to be sentenced on June 28, 2017.

U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf made the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina McCall prosecuted the case with the assistance of Allen Williams, Noble Hughes, Vanessa Vargas, and Kathleen Turner.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by IRS-CI with the assistance of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

Sammy Araya, 41, Santa Ana, California, Michael Henderson, 49,Costa Mesa, California, and Jen Seko, 36, Anaheim, California, were convicted by a federal jury in connection with their operation of a nationwide, multi-year “home mortgage modification” fraud that scammed hundreds of victims out of at least $10 million.

This is the same scheme that Kristen Ayala, whose sentence I wrote about in Comment on Sentencing of Kristen Ayala was involved with.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Araya, Henderson, and Seko operated a large-scale “home mortgage modification” scam that victimized vulnerable individuals and families across the country for several years. The conspirators sent targeted mass mailers to homeowners facing foreclosure through Seko’s company, Seko Direct Marketing. The mailers referenced real federal programs designed to help struggling homeowners, such as the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), and were titled “Notice of HUD Relief,” “Notice of Mortgage Relief,” and “New HAMP Benefits,” among other misleading titles. The mailers listed various toll-free telephone numbers for the homeowners to call for assistance. When a victim homeowner who had been solicited via a mass mailing called the toll-free number listed on the mailer, a member of the conspiracy posing as a “customer service representative” would answer the phone and collect financial information from the victim, as well as inquire about the victim’s mortgage and how far behind the victim was on his or her mortgage payments. The victims were told the information would be reviewed to determine if they qualified for a mortgage modification. Instead, the information was used by the conspirators to determine how much money could be stolen from the victim. Henderson served as one of the purported “customer service representatives” and helped to distribute the money collected by the scam, while Araya was the mastermind and principal beneficiary of the entire fraudulent operation.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, after being contacted by another member of the conspiracy and told that their mortgage modification had been approved, the victim homeowner would be told that their lender required a “reinstatement fee,” usually in the amount of thousands of dollars. Victims were also told that they were required to make several “trial” mortgage modification payments. After these so-called “trial payments” were completed, their modification would be complete and their new lower mortgage payment would become permanent for the life of the loan.

Throughout this process, the members of the conspiracy represented themselves to homeowners in mass mailings, phone calls, emails, and other communications using a laundry list of aliases and fictitious entity names. Some of those fictitious entities included “Equity Restoration Group,” “Neighborhood Counseling Services of America,” and “Home Retention Center,” among many others. The conspirators changed their aliases and entity names regularly, in an effort to evade detection by law enforcement. The conspirators also falsely represented themselves as a “non-profit” organization or as affiliated with the federal government or the victims’ lenders, and they directed the victims to make their checks and money orders payable to other fake entities, such as “Payment Processing Services,” “Default Servicing,” and “Trust Funding.” They then opened bank accounts using those false entity names, and used those bank accounts to briefly deposit victim payments before withdrawing the funds and distributing the proceeds among the members of the conspiracy.

The victims of this scheme dutifully sent their payments to the fraudulent entities as instructed by the conspirators, only to discover that they had not been granted a mortgage modification by their lenders. When victims confronted the members of the conspiracy about this fact, the conspirators would make lulling statements designed to reassure the victims, such as telling them that the mortgage modification process takes time, and that they were dealing with individuals at a higher level at the bank than the lender representatives with whom the victims had spoken. In reality, however, the members of the conspiracy were simply diverting the victims’ payments for their own personal benefit, without doing anything to assist in modifying the victims’ mortgages. Araya, the ringleader of the scheme, used the proceeds of the fraud to purchase expensive vehicles, a racehorse, and a variety of luxury goods, as well as to fund his personal travel and a reality television show he produced called “Make It Rain.TV.”

This scheme had devastating consequences for the victim homeowners, all of whom were already in a precarious financial position. Many victims suffered substantially greater financial hardship after falling victim to this conspiracy than they were already facing when they entered into the bogus agreements with the conspirators. In many cases, the lenders ultimately foreclosed on the victims’ homes, after the victims had been induced to make their “trial” mortgage payments to the members of the conspiracy rather than to their lenders.

These defendants scammed hundreds of individuals and families who were trying desperately to save their homes,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Their crimes were rooted in dishonesty and greed, and they shamelessly enriched themselves at their victims’ expense. I am very pleased with the convictions and want to commend the efforts of the Assistant United States Attorneys and our investigative partners for their terrific work on this important and complex case.”

Twelve defendants have been convicted in the Eastern District of Virginia in this case and a related case. They include the following individuals:

Name, Age

Hometown

Result

Sentencing

Sammy Araya, 41

Santa Ana, California

Convicted on Counts 1-11 of superseding indictment at trial todayFaces maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count of conviction
Michael Henderson, 49

Costa Mesa, California

Convicted on Counts 1-6 and 9-11 of superseding indictment at trial todayFaces maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count of conviction
Jen Seko, 36

Anaheim, California

Convicted on Counts 1-6 and 9-11 of superseding indictment at trial todayFaces maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count of conviction
Roscoe Umali, 38

Santa Ana, California

Pleaded guilty March 22, 2016220 months in prison on Aug. 18, 2016
Joshua Sanchez, 37

Las Vegas, Nevada

Pleaded guilty July 8, 2015 in case 1:15cr147151 months in prison on Oct. 29, 2015
Kristen Ayala, 32

Las Vegas, Nevada

Pleaded guilty August 4, 2015 in case 1:15cr147135 months in prison on Oct. 29, 2015
Isaac Perez, 33

Los Angeles

Pleaded guilty March 30, 2016130 months in prison on Sept. 1, 2016
Joshua Johnson, 36

Huntington Beach, California

Pleaded guilty March 30, 2016121 months in prison on July 7, 2016
Jefferson Maniscan, 34

Los Angeles

Pleaded guilty March 29, 2016120 months in prison on Aug. 18, 2016
Raymund Dacanay, 47

Newport Beach, California

Pleaded guilty March 29, 201660 months in prison on July 21, 2016
Nicholas Estilow, 34

Mission Viejo, California

Pleaded guilty January 18, 2017Faces maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on June 1.
Sabrina Rafo, 24

Garden Grove, California

Pleaded guilty January 19, 2017Faces maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on June 1.

 

Araya faces a maximum penalty of 220 years in prison, and Henderson and Seko each faces a maximum penalty of 180 years in prison when sentenced on July 19.

Today justice was served to three scam artists who preyed upon hundreds of desperate homeowners taking money in exchange for empty promises of admission into the HAMP program,” said Christy Goldsmith Romero, Special Inspector for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). “This was a scheme of deception and thievery: the defendants pocketed the homeowner dollars but did nothing to help their victims. I thank U.S. Attorney Boente and his team for their hard work and commitment protecting homeowners getting help through HAMP.”

“These defendants preyed upon innocent homeowners when they were at their most vulnerable, and simply trying to save their homes,” said Leslie DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge, Western Region, Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General. “These egregious schemes victimize homeowners and entire communities, and today a jury held them accountable for their actions. We are proud to work with our law enforcement partners on this case, and will continue to work with them to bring to justice all individuals who attempt to defraud unwitting victims.”

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Christy Goldsmith Romero, Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); William Hedrick, Acting Inspector in Charge of the Los Angeles Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Leslie DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge for the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA-OIG); and James Todak, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Los Angeles Field Office, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris accepted the verdict. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Samantha P. Bateman and Ryan S. Faulconer are prosecuting the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zach Terwilliger and James Gillis formerly prosecuted the case.

Sanjiv Kakkar, 55, Saratoga, California, was sentenced to 48 months in prison and ordered to pay $4,208,565.36 in restitution to the victim for wire fraud and making misstatements to a bank.  Kakkar was concited after a twelve-day jury trial ending with a guilty verdict on all counts.

The evidence at trial demonstrated Kakkar presented false information to a bank in connection with refinancing a hotel property he owned in Boulder Creek, California.  In November of 2008, Kakkar sought to secure a $6 million loan to refinance the Brookdale Inn and Spa.  In connection with the loan, he submitted bogus documents to a bank, including falsified income information and tax returns, which overstated his business income.  Kakkar also did not comply with his continuing obligation under the terms of the loan to provide the bank with updated financial records and further tax documents.  Further, between January and June 2009, Kakkar submitted false and fraudulent documents to an escrow company.  Kakkar induced the escrow company to advance hundreds of thousands of dollars in wire progress payments that were earmarked for reimbursement of construction costs.

A federal grand jury issued a superseding indictment against Kakkar on June 2, 2016, charging him with one count of making misstatements to a bank, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1014, and six counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343.  On November 8, 2016, a jury found Kakkar guilty of all the charges presented in the superseding indictment.

In addition to the prison term, and restitution, Kakkar was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and to serve three years of supervised release.  Kakkar currently is released on bond and has been ordered to surrender on or before June 22, 2017, to begin serving his sentence.

The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Edward J. Davila, U.S. District Judge.  U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Jill Snyder announced the sentence.Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amie Rooney and Maia Perez are prosecuting the case with assistance from Nina Burney and Elise Etter.  The case is the result of an investigation by the ATF.