Archives For Employment/Income

Mahendra Prasad, 55, Fremont, California, was sentenced by to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $328,000 in restitution for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme.

On May 22, 2017, Prasad pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud affecting a financial institution. Co-defendants Jyoteshna Karan, Praveen Singh, Sunita Singh and Nani Isaac are scheduled for a jury trial in U.S. District Court in Fresno, California, on Monday, December 11, 2017.

According to court documents, in 2006, Prasad caused loan application packages that contained false statements to be submitted to a mortgage lender in order to buy a property in Sacramento. The false statements included statements concerning Prasad’s employer, income, and purported intention to occupy the property as his primary residence. Following his fraudulent purchase, Prasad, with the assistance of others, rented the property as Section 8 housing and collected rents. Prasad did not reside in or occupy the property as his primary residence.

In 2013, Prasad applied to a bank to sell the property to another person at a loss to the bank. He falsely claimed to the bank that the “short” sale was an “arm’s length” transaction, and that neither he nor the buyer were related by commercial enterprise. Prasad’s conduct caused a loss to a financial institution of approximately $328,000.

Prasad was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill.  The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert.  The case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Henry Z. Carbajal III and Christopher D. Baker are prosecuting the case.

 

 

Gregory Gibbons, 51, Pleasantville, New York, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution, before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathleen A. Lynch and Elizabeth Moellering, who are handling the case, stated that between June 2008 and February 2009, the defendant conspired with others, including Alagi Samba, a realtor, and Daniel Badu, to devise a scheme to obtain eight loans for unqualified borrowers for homes in the Bronx, New York.  As part of the scheme, Gibbons acted as the mortgage broker and altered income and asset documents of the borrowers before they were sent to financial institutions.

For instance, Gibbons altered and created documents to make it appear that defendant Badu qualified for a mortgage on a property at 814 Faile Street in the Bronx. The defendant indicated that Badu was a research ophthalmologist and earned a specific income when in fact, Badu was not a research ophthalmologist nor did he receive the income stated on a loan application. Gibbons knew that these false loan documents were submitted to The Funding Source, a mortgage bank, in order to secure a loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration. Based on that false application and supporting documentation, the loan was approved. The Funding Source then sold the loan on the secondary market to M &T Bank, which wired funds from New York through the State of Ohio to purchase the loan.

The defendant and his co-conspirators arranged for additional fraudulent loans to be approved, including another loan for Badu, and caused wire communications to be transmitted in interstate commerce for those loans. These fraudulent transactions caused losses of approximately $4,800,007 affecting M&T Bank and other financial institutions including SunTrust Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank, and Citibank.

Defendants Badu and Samba have also been convicted and are awaiting sentencing. Charges are pending against co-defendants Julio Rodriguez, Laurence Savedoff, and Tina Brown.

Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. announced the plea which is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Shelly Binkowski, Boston Division, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brad Geary, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Adam S. Cohen.

Sentencing for defendant Gibbons is scheduled for October 19, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. before Judge Geraci.

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.

Orlando Ortiz, 53, Luis Enrique Tur, 47, Jeffrey Todd Canfield, 49, Rafael Amador, 34, Osvaldo Sanchez, 40, Mirna Pena, 54, and Pedro Reynaldo Allende, 66,all residents of Miami-Dade County, Florida, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud affecting a financial institution. Ortiz, Tur, Canfield, Amador, and Sanchez  are scheduled to be sentenced on January 19, 2017. Pena and Allende are scheduled to be sentenced on March 28, 2017.

The charges arise from the involvement of the defendants in a complex mortgage fraud scheme involving two condominium conversion projects in central Florida.

According to court documents, including the agreed upon factual statements:

In 2007 and 2008, Ortiz, Tur, Canfield, Amador, and Sanchez participated in a mortgage fraud scheme involving two condominium projects: “Portofino at Largo,” in Largo, Florida, and “Bayshore Landing,” in Tampa, Florida.  Pena and Allende were involved in the same mortgage fraud scheme; however, their involvement was limited to units in the Portofino at Largo project.

During the course of the conspiracy, Pena, Allende, and other individuals recruited straw buyers and unqualified buyers, including Ortiz, Tur, and Canfield, to purchase units in the two condominium projects.  Among other things, the recruiters told certain prospective buyers that: buyers did not have to contribute any money to purchase a unit; buyers would receive a cash-back incentive or “kick-back” after closing; and buyers would receive several months’ mortgage payments.

The co-conspirators prepared and submitted false and fraudulent mortgage loan applications and related documents to various lenders including Bank of America, BankUnited, Chase Bank USA, CitiMortgage, First National Bank of Arizona, IndyMac Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank, and Washington Mutual Bank.  Among other things, the loan applications and related documents contained false and fraudulent statements and omissions regarding: the borrower’s intention to reside in the unit; the borrower’s employment and income; the borrower’s assets and liabilities; the borrower’s payment of an earnest money deposit and cash-to-close; and the use of mortgage loan proceeds to pay “marketing fees” to various “marketing companies.”  In truth and in fact, the marketing companies were fraudulent businesses that did not provide any marketing services.  Instead, the “fraudulently induced marketing fees” were a means of diverting proceeds from the fraud scheme to the marketing companies.  The fraudulent marketing companies would then use the fraud proceeds to pay undisclosed kick-backs to the buyers.

Pena and Allende operated two Miami-based businesses, which were used to perpetrate the mortgage fraud scheme: Mortgage Bankers Lenders, Inc., a mortgage broker business, which submitted false and fraudulent loan applications and related documents to the lenders; and United Title Services & Escrow, Inc., which closed mortgage loan transactions even though the buyers had not paid earnest money deposits or cash-to-close, and used loan proceeds to pay “marketing fees” to a marketing company operated by unindicted co-conspirators.

Ortiz, Canfield, and Tur purchased units in Portofino at Largo.  Tur also purchased units in Bayshore Landing.  Ortiz, Canfield, and Tur engaged a Miami-based mortgage broker business operated by an unindicted co-conspirator to prepare and submit mortgage loan applications for their units.  On their behalf, the co-conspirator prepared and submitted fraudulent loan applications and other documents to various lenders.  The fraudulent loan documents included fabricated W-2 Wage and Tax Statements and pay stubs.  After closing on their units, Ortiz, Canfield, and Tur received substantial undisclosed kick-backs from a marketing company operated by an unindicted co-conspirator.  The kick-backs were funded with fraud proceeds, which had been paid to the marketing company as “marketing fees.”

Amador and Sanchez operated Allegiance Title of America, Inc., which served as the closing agent for mortgage loans involving condominium units in Portofino at Largo and Bayshore Landing.  Among other things, Amador and Sanchez caused Allegiance Title of America to disburse loan proceeds even though the buyers had not paid the earnest money deposits or cash to close, that was required by their loan applications and settlement statements.  Amador and Sanchez also caused Allegiance Title of America to pay fraudulent “marketing fees” to marketing companies.

The defendants face a maximum statutory term of thirty years’ imprisonment for their participation in the mortgage fraud conspiracy.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Timothy Mowery, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG), George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Juan J. Perez, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), made the announcement.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FHFA-OIG, FBI and MDPD.  Both cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dwayne E. Williams.

 

Lillian Marquez, 41, Stockton, California was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez to three years and one month in prison for conspiring to commit mortgage fraud.

Marquez pleaded guilty on June 14, 2016. On September 20, 2016, co-defendant Michael Keatts, 59, Stockton, California was also sentenced to three years and one month in prison for his role in the conspiracy. Both Marquez and Keatts were ordered to pay $193,134 in restitution to financial institutions harmed by their scheme.

According to court documents, from February of 2006, through at least August of 2012, Marquez and Keatts operated Colonial Home and Business Services in Stockton, California. Both defendants were licensed real estate agents who assisted clients in purchasing and selling homes. They both participated in supplying false information to mortgage lending institutions indicating that clients were employed by various businesses that the defendants set up and controlled. In fact, these clients were not employed by those businesses and their actual income from their true employment was far less than what was represented to lending institutions. To support these false claims, the defendants created and submitted fraudulent paystubs and tax documents falsely stating that their clients were so employed.

In addition, both defendants engaged in short sale fraud, in which they assisted clients facing default on their current loans to arrange for short sales of their properties. Unbeknownst to the lending institutions, the defendants arranged for the properties to be sold to straw buyers. The original owners would remain in the properties, and enjoy the benefits of the new loans that the lenders assumed were made to other individuals.

Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced the sentence.  The case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Assistant United States Attorney Philip Ferrari prosecuted the case.

Stevie McDonald, 41, Winter Haven, Florida has pleaded guilty to making false statements in a mortgage loan application. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to court documents, on November 10, 2007, McDonald entered into a contract to purchase a home in Port Richey, Florida. He then applied for a mortgage loan from Washington Mutual Bank. In the loan documents that he signed and submitted to the bank, McDonald made false statements about his income and his employment. In December 2007, during the course of the closing on the property purchase, Washington Mutual paid more than $35,000 to a woman McDonald knew and later married. This payment was purportedly a satisfaction of an existing lien on the sale property. Subsequent investigation revealed that no such lien existed. Washington Mutual Bank suffered a financial loss as a consequence of McDonald’s default on this loan.

United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III made the announcement.  The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.

Ryan Geddes, 44, Litchfield, Connecticut was sentenced to 30 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for participating in multiple conspiracies involving a series of real estate transactions intended to shield assets from creditors.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Geddes had accrued a series of debts as of late 2005, and was the subject of various lawsuits and collection efforts for the next several years.  A bank fraud conspiracy commenced in November 2005 when Geddes sold a lakefront home located at 27 Palmer Road, Morris Connecticut to Thomas Provenzano.  Lacking the funds to qualify for the $923,000 mortgage, Provenzano nonetheless obtained the loan based on an application that falsely listed his income as $20,000 per month, or $240,000 annually, and falsely listed Provenzano as having worked for several years as the Operations Manager for one of Geddes’s construction companies.  Provenzano had not worked in that capacity, and had earned substantially less.  The loan application also listed Geddes’s company as having verified Provenzano’s employment.  In November 2006, Provenzano refinanced the loan, obtaining a $936,000 mortgage from a federally insured bank.  The new loan application, like the prior one, falsely listed Provenzano as employed by Geddes’s construction company, and falsely listed his monthly income as $28,000, or $336,000 annually.  The application again listed Geddes’s company as having verified Provenzano’s employment.  The loan is now in default, and the 27 Palmer Road property is in foreclosure. Continue Reading…

Michael P. O’Donnell, mortgage broker, 54, Middleton, Massachusetts, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to three years in prison, two years of supervised release and ordered to pay a fine of $150,000 in connection with his role in 20 fraudulent loan transactions in the North Shore area of Massachusetts.  In July 2015, O’Donnell was convicted following a three-day bench trial of attempted bank fraud. Continue Reading…

Vera Kuzmenko, 45, Loomis, California and Rachel Siders, 40, Roseville, California, were found guilty by a federal jury after a 16 day trial of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud associated with their involvement in a mortgage fraud scheme that cost financial institutions over $16 million.

Vera Kuzmenko was also found guilty of witness tampering and money laundering associated with the scheme.

According to evidence presented at trial, from late 2006 through early 2008, the defendants engaged in a mortgage fraud scheme involving over 30 properties in the Sacramento, California, area. The defendants were responsible for securing more than $30 million in residential mortgage loans on more than 30 homes purchased through straw buyers. Records introduced at trial showed Vera Kuzmenko received millions of dollars and Rachel Siders received hundreds of thousands of dollars. Continue Reading…

Rosita Vilchez, 39, a fugitive in Lima, Peru, until she was extradited to the United States in June 2015, pled guilty to leading a wide-ranging mortgage fraud conspiracy that targeted hundreds of victims in the northern Virginia Hispanic community. The mortgage fraud scheme, which operated between August 2005 and August 2007, generated nearly $7.4 million in fraudulent proceeds and caused losses of more than $15 million to lenders, most of which were federally insured. Continue Reading…