Archives For California

Latrese Gevon Breaux, 47, was sentenced today for helping run a sophisticated real estate fraud scheme that resulted in the theft of more than $1.4 million from 2014 to 2016.

From July 2014 through September 2016, Angela Cotton, assisted by her co-defendants, used fictitious escrow and title companies that she had created to deceive a lending company into believing it was funding two legitimate real estate transactions.

The group stole the identities of nine people in order to facilitate the fictitious real estate sales. Along with the fake escrow and title companies, the defendants created a fictitious place of employment for one supposed homebuyer under whose name the two loans were approved, the prosecutor said.

To convince the lender of the legitimacy of the transactions and the entities involved, the defendants created fraudulent websites, emails and phone networks along with fake employment documentation and bank account statements from a non-existent financial institution for the borrower.

The lender transferred funds to a bank account it believed to be owned by a legitimate title company but was owned by one of the defendants.

The properties for which the defendants received loans were located in Los Angeles, California and La Cañada Flintridge, California and had not been listed for sale, the prosecutor added. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Latrese+Gevon+Breaux

Breaux, pleaded no contest on February 14, 2019 to one felony count each of grand theft and identity theft, and she admitted an allegation of fraud and embezzlement. She was sentenced to 212 days in county jail. She also is required to complete 200 hours community service and was placed on formal probation for five years under the terms of a plea agreement.

In October, Angela Grace Cotton, 47, was sentenced to 12 years in state prison after pleading no contest to three counts of identity theft, two counts of grand theft and one count each of forgery and money laundering, all felonies.

Denaysha Coleman, 27, was sentenced to three years and eight months in state prison after pleading no contest to one felony count each of grand theft and money laundering.

Lawrence Edward Cotton, 53, was sentenced to two years in state prison after pleading no contest to one felony count each of grand theft and money laundering.

All four defendants are required to pay more than $1.4 million in restitution under the terms of a negotiated plea agreement.

Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office made the announcement.

Deputy District Attorney Daniel Kinney of the White Collar Crime Division’s Real Estate Fraud Section prosecuted case BA472018.

The case was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Fraud and Cyber Crimes Bureau.

 

Omar Anabo, 57, Vallejo, California has been sentenced to three years in prison for conspiracy to make false statements on loan applications and ordered to pay $379,068 in restitution to victims of the conspiracy.

According to court documents, between Oct. 2004 and May 2007, Anabo and co‑conspirators Sergio Roman Barrientos, 66, and Zalathiel Aguila, 46, operated Capital Access LLC in Vallejo, a company that preyed on homeowners nearing foreclosure. The defendants convinced homeowners to sign over the title to their homes to Capital Access and then spent any equity those homeowners still had, which was then used for operational expenses of the scheme and personal expenses of Anabo and his co-conspirators. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Omar+Anabo

The defendants also used straw buyers to obtain home loans under false pretenses and defraud federally insured financial institutions out of millions of dollars. Vulnerable homeowners across California lost their homes and savings as a result of the scheme, and lenders lost an estimated $10.47 million from the fraud.

Barrientos was sentenced on Nov. 2, 2018, to 14 years in prison for his role in the scheme. Aguila was sentenced on July 26, 2019, to four years in prison.

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

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew M. Yelovich and Christina McCall prosecuted the case.

 

Manuel Herrera, 39, Davis, California was sentenced today to serve one year in prison for conspiring to commit wire fraud.

According to court documents, between October 2004 and May 2007, Herrera was an employee of Delta Homes and Lending Inc., a now-defunct Sacramento-based real estate and mortgage lending company that was founded by co-defendant Moctezuma “Mo” Tovar, 50, Sacramento, California. Herrera, Tovar, and other Delta Homes employees and co-defendants agreed to commit fraud to obtain home loans from mortgage lenders. As part of the scheme, Herrera submitted fraudulent mortgage loan applications and supporting documents, which falsely represented the borrowers’ assets and income, liabilities and debts, employment status, citizenship status, and intent to occupy the property. Herrera also provided money to the borrowers in order to inflate their bank account balances. Once the loans were secured, the borrowers returned the money to Herrera. The aggregate sales price of the homes involved in the overall conspiracy was in excess of $10 million. As a result of the conspiracy, mortgage lenders and others suffered losses of at least $4 million.

Herrera is the fifth defendant sentenced as part of the scheme. Co-defendant Tovar was sentenced to four and a half years in prison; Jun Jun Michael Dirain, 47, Antelope, California was sentenced to six months in prison, followed by six months of home detention; Sandra Hermosillo, 57, Woodland, California was sentenced to nine months of home detention; Christian Parada Renteria, 43, formerly of Sacramento, California was sentenced to serve one year in prison.

Co-defendants Jaime Mayorga, 40, and Ruben Rodriguez, 42, both of Sacramento, California were convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud at a jury trial. They are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez on December 10, 2019. Each defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, 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.

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

 

Angela Grace Cotton, 47, Denaysha Coleman, 27, Lawrence Edward Cotton, 52 have been sentenced for running a sophisticated real estate fraud scheme that resulted in the theft of more than $1.4 million from 2014 to 2016.

From July 2014 through September 2016, Cotton, assisted by her co-defendants, used fictitious escrow and title companies that she had created to deceive a lending company into believing it was funding two legitimate real estate transactions.

The group stole the identities of nine people in order to facilitate the fictitious real estate sales. Along with the fake escrow and title companies, the defendants created a fictitious place of employment for one supposed homebuyer under whose name the two loans were approved, the prosecutor said.

To convince the lender of the legitimacy of the transactions and the entities involved, the defendants created fraudulent websites, emails and phone networks along with fake employment documentation and bank account statements from a non-existent financial institution for the borrower.

The lender transferred funds to a bank account it believed to be owned by a legitimate title company but was allegedly owned by one of the defendants.

The properties for which the defendants received loans were located in Los Angeles and La Cañada Flintridge and had not been listed for sale, the prosecutor added.

Cotton was sentenced yesterday to 12 years in state prison after pleading no contest to three counts of identity theft, two counts of grand theft and one count each of forgery and money laundering, all felonies.

Coleman was sentenced to three years and eight months in state prison after pleading no contest to one felony count each of grand theft and money laundering.

Cotton was sentenced to two years in state prison after pleading no contest to one felony count each of grand theft and money laundering.

All three defendants admitted allegations of fraud and embezzlement resulting in the loss of more than $500,000.

They are required to pay more than $1.4 million in restitution under the terms of a negotiated plea agreement.

A fourth defendant, Latrese Gevon Breaux, 47, pleaded no contest on February 14, 2019 to one felony count each of grand theft and identity theft, and she admitted an allegation of fraud and embezzlement.

She is expected to be sentenced to five years of formal probation and 106 days in county jail for time served on December 4, 2019 in Department 50 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. She also is required to complete 200 hours of community service under the terms of a plea agreement.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office made the announcement today.

Deputy District Attorney Daniel Kinney of the White Collar Crime Division’s Real Estate Fraud Section prosecuted case BA472018.

The case was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Fraud and Cyber Crimes Bureau.

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Steven Rogers, Robert Sedlar, and Audrey Gan, the operators of Grand View Financial, were indicted today on a 121-count felony indictment for allegedly operating a mortgage fraud scheme throughout California.

The victims, many of whom were elderly and in financial distress, sought mortgage relief services from Grand View Financial in the Counties of San Diego, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Placer, Solano, Mendocino, San Francisco, El Dorado, and Sacramento.

Between 2015 and 2019, the defendants allegedly conspired to steal money and homes from distressed homeowners using a company called Grand View Financial. The company launched a mortgage and foreclosure assistance program that advertised assistance to desperate homeowners facing foreclosure. The defendants promised consumers that if they transferred their house and paid money to Grand View Financial, the company would eliminate the mortgage lien and deed the home back to the homeowner, clear of any liens. During this time, the defendants allegedly filed false court proceedings, false documents with the county recorders offices, and false bankruptcies.

The trio was indicted by a grand jury in the Sacramento Superior Court for conspiracy, grand theft, elder abuse, filing false or forged documents in a public office, and engaging in a prohibited act as a foreclosure consultant.  The scheme resulted in a combined loss of over $7 million.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra made the announcement.

Individuals who prey on vulnerable communities to enrich themselves will be held accountable by the California Department of Justice,” said Attorney General Becerra. “My office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute those who disregard the rule of law.”

The indictment and arrests are the result of a joint investigation by the California Department of Justice, Fraud and Special Prosecutions Section and White Collar Crime Team; the United States Office of Inspector General, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; the United States Office of Inspector General, Federal Housing Finance Agency; the United States Trustee Program; the United States Marshals Service; the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office; and the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office.

Attorney General Becerra is committed to protecting Californians from mortgage fraud and other financial crimes. If you believe you may have been targeted by Grand View Financial, please contact the California Department of Justice. For those located in California, please call: 1-800-952-5225. For those located outside of California, please call: 1-916-322-3360.

It is important to note that a criminal indictment contains charges that must be proven in a court of law. Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

A copy of the indictment can be found here.

James Ignatius Diamond, 69, Riverside, California was sentenced today for defrauding hundreds of victims, mainly distressed homeowners who paid thousands of dollars after attending seminars that promoted a “Free and Clear” program pitched by the defendant and his salespeople.

Between 2010 and 2013, Diamond sold fraudulent debt-elimination services to desperate victims whose finances had been ravaged by the Great Recession. Diamond owned and operated a number of businesses, including the Riverside, California based Transmitting Assets Inc., Operation Safe Haven, Buyer Beware, and Unlimited Logistics Corp., through which he fraudulently offered services that he claimed could wipe out the debts of homeowners behind on their mortgage payments and other debts.

Diamond personally pitched the “Diamond Home Reclamation Method” to solicit victims with false promises that his methods would entirely eliminate their mortgages and allow people to own their homes “free and clear.”

Relying on the false representations, victims paid substantial fees, including an upfront fee, typically $3,500, payable only in cash, money orders or cashier’s checks, periodic program fees, and inflated notary fees. After paying the upfront fee, victims were required to sign and notarize documents, which they were instructed to send to financial institutions and government agencies, documents prosecutors described in court documents as “fraudulent and nonsensical.”

When victims of the scheme in 2011 began receiving mortgage default notices and lost their homes, Diamond launched another debt-elimination scam called the “EFT Program,” under which Diamond claimed to be able to eliminate victims’ debt with “EFT” checks. This scam required victims to pay Diamond 13 percent of the debt that was to be eliminated.

Diamond knew that his methods did nothing to discharge debts. In fact, when FBI agents searched his business in 2013, they recovered hundreds of “rejection letters” from financial institutions indicating that documents submitted as part of the debt-elimination programs did nothing to help the victims. Diamond’s email accounts contained numerous complaints and refund requests from victims, all of which he ignored.

Investigators have identified more than 500 victims who suffered losses of at least $1.6 million. Diamond spent victims’ money on luxury hotels, jewelry, alcoholic beverages, and living expenses.

At the conclusion of a six-day trial in June 2019, Diamond was found guilty by a jury of 15 counts of mail fraud affecting a financial institution and 15 counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution.

Previously in this case, a Diamond associate,  Tricia Mae Gruber, 43, Riverside, California, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and admitted helping operate the scheme. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 21, 2019.

This case was investigated by the FBI.

This matter was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Marina A. Torres of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section and Kevin B. Reidy of the General Crimes Section.

 

Moctezuma “Mo” Tovar, 50, Sacramento, California, Jun Michael Dirain, 47, Antelope, California and Sandra Hermosillo, 57, Woodland, California were sentenced today for conspiring to commit wire fraud in a mortgage fraud scheme.

According to court documents, Tovar was the founder and president of Delta Homes and Lending Inc., a now-defunct Sacramento, California-based real estate and mortgage lending company. Delta Homes opened one office in 2003 and eventually had several offices in Sacramento and Woodland, California. As the president of Delta Homes, Tovar managed the day-to-day operations of the company and prepared and submitted residential home loan applications on behalf of Delta Homes’ clients. Dirain was a loan processor at Delta Homes, and Hermosillo was a loan officer at the Woodland office and was also responsible for submitting residential home loan applications on behalf of clients.

Between October 2004 and May 2007, Tovar, Dirain, and Hermosillo conspired along with others to obtain home loans from mortgage lenders based upon false and fraudulent loan applications and supporting documents that falsely represented the borrowers’ assets and income, liabilities and debts, and employment status. They provided money to the borrowers in order to inflate their bank account balances. Once the loans were secured, the borrowers returned the money to the defendants. The aggregate sale price of the homes involved in the overall conspiracy was in excess of $10 million. As a result of the conspiracy, mortgage lenders and others suffered losses of at least $4 million. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Jun+Michael+Dirain

Tovar was sentenced to four years and six months in prison, Dirain was sentenced to six months in prison, followed by six months of home detention; and Hermosillo was sentenced to nine months of home detention.

Co-defendant Christian Parada Renteria, 43, formerly of Sacramento, California pleaded guilty to two counts of concealing felonies related to the wire fraud conspiracy, and was previously sentenced to serve one year in prison.

Co-defendant Manuel Herrera, 39, Davis, California pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and co-defendants Jaime Mayorga, 40, and Ruben Rodriguez, 42, both of Sacramento, California, were convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud at a jury trial.

Herrera will be sentenced by Judge Shubb on a date to be determined. Mayorga and Rodriguez will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez on November 5, 2019. Each defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, 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.

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

 

An amicus brief has been filed today in support of a lawsuit brought by the City of Oakland against Wells Fargo. The City alleges that the bank engaged in predatory mortgage lending targeting minority communities.

The brief urged the court to affirm the district court’s denial of Wells Fargo’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit and highlighted the harmful effects of discriminatory lending practices in California.

In 2015, the City of Oakland filed a lawsuit alleging that, in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Wells Fargo harmed the city through a pattern of illegal and discriminatory mortgage lending, heavily impacting minority community members. In particular, Oakland alleged that Wells Fargo steered minority borrowers there to loans with higher costs and risks, and refused to allow those borrowers to refinance, or would only refinance on less favorable terms compared to other similar loans, when they were no longer able to meet the terms of their original agreements. According to the first amended complaint, African-American and Latino borrowers were more than twice as likely to receive a high-cost or high-risk loan from Wells Fargo than similarly situated white customers. As a result, the city alleged, among other things, that these discriminatory practices suppressed property values in minority communities in Oakland, reduced property tax revenues, and increased the costs of providing municipal services. Wells Fargo’s motion to dismiss the case was largely denied and the bank is currently seeking review before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra made the announcement.

Equal access to housing starts with equal and fair access to our financial institutions,” said Attorney General Becerra. “For many African-Americans and Latinos, the hardships of the mortgage crisis haven’t stopped. Our fight for economic justice continues and I’m proud to stand with the City of Oakland in this effort to combat predatory lending in our state.”

Wells Fargo’s racially discriminatory mortgage lending practices against African-Americans and Hispanics have devastated individuals, families, and communities in Oakland, throughout California, and across the country where Wells Fargo operates, dramatically increasing foreclosures and decreasing the Black and Latino middle class,” said Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker. “Evidence shows that Wells Fargo systematically provided more expensive and higher risk loans to African-American and Hispanic borrowers in Oakland and other cities who qualified for the more favorable loans that the bank offered to white borrowers. We applaud Attorney General Becerra for standing with Oakland to hold Wells Fargo accountable and stop these racially discriminatory practices.”

Attorney General Becerra is committed to tackling housing inequity in the state and throughout the country. In March and October of 2018, the California Department of Justice submitted Attorney General Becerra is committed to tackling housing inequity in the state and throughout the country. In March and October of 2018, the California Department of Justice submitted comments opposing changes proposed by the Trump Administration that would revoke key tools used to overcome entrenched patterns of residential segregation and foster inclusive communities. In July of 2019, Attorney General Becerra urged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to withdraw a proposed rule on housing assistance eligibility, which would risk eviction for tens of thousands of Californians. Attorney General Becerra also joined a coalition of attorneys general seeking to protect federal rules allowing equal and consistent access to shelters for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals.

A copy of the brief is available here.

 

Erik Hermann Green, 37, Huntington Beach, formerly of Roseville, California was sentenced to 27 months in prison and ordered to pay $118,421 in restitution for his participation in a mortgage fraud scheme.

According to evidence presented at a seven–day trial in March, Green was part of a large‑scale scheme to defraud the New Century Mortgage Corporation by submitting false documentation about employment, income and assets, including fraudulent loan applications and other altered bank documents. In October 2006, when Green submitted his fraudulent loan applications to obtain a loan for $820,000, he was a licensed real estate sales person and managed approximately 15 loan officers. As part of the scheme, Green received a check for $100,000 that was funneled through a shell company at the close of escrow. Green used the funds for personal expenses. The jury found him guilty of three counts of wire fraud.

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

The defendant lied to mortgage lenders to obtain a substantial amount of money and a new home for himself, while causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses to lenders,” said Kareem Carter, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “This case highlights the ongoing commitment of IRS-CI to hold accountable those involved in these types of crimes.”

This case was the product of an investigation by the IRS Criminal Investigation and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael D. Anderson and Miriam R. Hinman prosecuted the case.

 

Zalathiel Aguila, 46, Vallejo, California has been sentenced to four years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution and bank fraud.

According to court documents, between September 2004 and February 2008, Aguila and co-conspirators Sergio Roman Barrientos and Omar Anabo operated Capital Access LLC, in Vallejo, a company that preyed on homeowners nearing foreclosure. The defendants convinced homeowners to sign over the title to their homes to Capital Access and then spent any equity those homeowners still had, which was then used for operational expenses of the scheme and personal expenses of Aguila and his co-conspirators.

The defendants also used straw buyers to obtain home loans under false pretenses and defraud federally insured financial institutions out of millions of dollars. Vulnerable homeowners across California lost their homes and savings as a result of the scheme, and lenders lost an estimated $10.47 million from the fraud.

Aguila remains out of custody pending his surrendering for service of his sentence on October 25, 2019. Barrientos was sentenced on November 2, 2018, to 14 years in prison for his role in the scheme, and Anabo (charged elsewhere) is scheduled to be sentenced on August 16, 2019.

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

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Yelovich prosecuted the case.