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Jason Anthony Martinez, 38, Tampa, Florida has been sentenced to an additional three months’ imprisonment for a total of 27 months’ imprisonment for lying to the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Financial Litigation Unit and U.S. Probation to avoid his restitution obligation in a mortgage-related fraud case.

According to the plea agreement, Martinez was previously convicted and ordered to pay $3,008,551.01 in restitution. On October 24, 2017, Martinez signed and submitted a Financial Disclosure Form, upon which he falsely claimed a net income that was approximately half his actual net income and failed to disclose a number of credit accounts. This false information materially and adversely affected the resulting restitution-related payment calculations in his prior case. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Jason+Anthony+Martinez

In addition, he was sentenced to an additional two years of supervised release, extending his post-incarceration supervision to a total of five years.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, recognizing the critical importance of recovering restitution for victims, has a Financial Litigation Unit that collects criminal monetary penalties, including restitution, imposed on criminal defendants by the U.S. District Court as part of his or her sentence. One of the tools used by the Unit to collect restitution is the Financial Disclosure Statement, which requires defendants to truthfully disclose, among other things, their income, expenses, assets, and liabilities.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Economic Crimes Section. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas N. Palermo.

Universal American Mortgage Company, LLC (UAMC) has agreed to pay the United States $13.2 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by falsely certifying that it complied with Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance requirements in connection with certain mortgages.  UAMC is a mortgage lender headquartered in Miami, Florida, doing business across the country, including in the Western District of Washington.

The United States alleged that between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2011, UAMC knowingly submitted loans for FHA insurance that did not qualify.  The United States further alleged that UAMC improperly incentivized underwriters and knowingly failed to perform quality control reviews, which violated HUD requirements and contributed to UAMC’s submission of defective loans.

During the period covered by the settlement, UAMC participated as a direct endorsement lender (DEL) in the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) FHA insurance program.  A DEL has the authority to originate, underwrite and endorse mortgages for FHA insurance.  If a DEL approves a mortgage loan for FHA insurance and the loan later defaults, the holder of the loan may submit an insurance claim to HUD, FHA’s parent agency, for the losses resulting from the defaulted loan.  Under the DEL program, the FHA does not review a loan for compliance with FHA requirements before it is endorsed for FHA insurance.  DELs are therefore required to follow program rules designed to ensure that they are properly underwriting and certifying mortgages for FHA insurance and to maintain a quality control program that can prevent and correct deficiencies in their underwriting practices.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.

Mortgage lenders may not ignore material FHA requirements designed to reduce the risk that borrowers will be unable to afford their homes and federal funds will be wasted,” said Assistant Attorney General Joseph H. Hunt for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “We will hold accountable entities that knowingly fail to follow important federal program requirements.”

“In a quest for profits, mortgage companies have ignored important lending standards” said U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Annette L. Hayes.  “Not only does this harm the borrowers leaving them over their heads in debt and underwater on their mortgages, it harms taxpayers because the mortgages are backed by government insurance.  This settlement should serve as a warning to other lenders to diligently follow the rules.

United States Attorney Joseph Harrington for the Eastern District of Washington said, “FHA mortgages are vital to first-time homebuyers and to families whose credit and assets were damaged by the 2008 economic crisis.  FHA underwriting and other requirements are critical to safeguarding the integrity of the public money used to operate this important program.  We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that mortgage lenders and others who profit from this program, while ignoring its rules, will be held accountable.

One of our principle responsibilities is to protect and ensure the integrity of federal housing programs for the benefit of all Americans,” said Jeremy M. Kirkland, Acting Deputy Inspector General, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General.  “This settlement demonstrates our resolve and should signal to irresponsible lenders that this conduct will not be tolerated.

FHA depends upon the lenders we do business with to apply our standards and to truthfully certify that they’ve done so,” said David Woll, HUD’s Deputy General Counsel for Enforcement.  “Working with our federal partners, HUD will enforce these lending standards so we can protect families from preventable foreclosure and to protect FHA from unnecessary losses.

The settlement resolves allegations originally brought by Kat Nguyen-Seligman, a former employee of a related UAMC entity, in a lawsuit filed under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which allows private parties to bring suit on behalf of the federal government and to share in any recovery.  The whistleblower will receive $1,980,000 as her share of the federal government’s recovery in this case.

This matter was handled on behalf of the government by the Justice Department’s Civil Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern District of Washington and Western District of Washington, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General.  case is captioned United States ex rel. Kat Nguyen-Selgiman v. Lennar Corporation, Universal American Mortgage Company, LLC, and Eagle Home Mortgage of California, Inc., 14-cv-1435 (W.D. Wash.).  The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only, and there has been no admission of liability.

The settlement agreement is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Kayla Stahman.

Jason Anthony Martinez, 38, Tampa, Florida, has plead guilty to making false statements to the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Financial Litigation Unit.

According to the plea agreement, Martinez was previously convicted in a mortgage-related fraud case and ordered to pay $3,008,551.01 in restitution. On October 24, 2017, Martinez signed and submitted a Financial Disclosure Form, upon which he falsely claimed a net income that was approximately half his actual net income and failed to disclose a number of credit accounts. This false information materially and adversely affected the resulting restitution-related payment calculations in his prior case.

He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.

United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez made the announcement.

U.S. Attorney Chapa Lopez stated, “Pursuant to the Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004, federal crime victims have the right to full and timely restitution. Our Financial Litigation Unit is dedicated to investigating defendants’ ability to meet their restitution obligation and collecting such restitution in compliance with federal law. Criminal defendants must understand that the United States Attorney’s Office actively pursues the collection of restitution.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, recognizing the critical importance of recovering restitution for victims, has a Financial Litigation Unit that collects criminal monetary penalties, including restitution, imposed on criminal defendants by the U.S. District Court as part of his or her sentence. One of the tools used by the Unit to collect restitution is the Financial Disclosure Statement, which requires defendants to truthfully disclose, among other things, their income, expenses, assets, and liabilities.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Economic Crimes Section. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas N. Palermo.

IRVINE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–CoreLogic® (NYSE: CLGX), a leading global property information, analytics and data-enabled solutions provider, today released its latest Mortgage Fraud Report. The report shows a 12.4 percent year-over-year increase in fraud risk at the end of the second quarter, as measured by the CoreLogic Mortgage Application Fraud Risk Index.

Source: CoreLogic Reports a 12.4 Percent Year-over-Year Increase in Mortgage Fraud Risk for the Second Quarter of 2018 | Business Wire

David Lyle Morgan, 53, Tamp, Florida has pleaded guilty to one count of bankruptcy fraud.

According to the plea agreement, Morgan was a licensed realtor who entered into a contract with a homeowner to sell a property in foreclosure. In order to prevent the Federal National Mortgage Association (commonly known as Fannie Mae) from lawfully foreclosing on the homeowner’s property, Morgan devised and executed a bankruptcy fraud scheme wherein he filed a fraudulent bankruptcy petition in the name of the homeowner, without the homeowner’s knowledge or consent, just prior to the scheduled foreclosure sale date. The fraudulent bankruptcy invoked the automatic stay provision of the bankruptcy code, which prevented Fannie Mae from conducting the foreclosure sale and obtaining title to the property. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=David+Lyle+Morgan

The fraudulent bankruptcy petition filed by Morgan allowed him to continue efforts to sell the property in order to obtain ill-gotten real estate commissions.

He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

Advocate Law Groups of Florida, P.A., Jon B. Lindeman, Jr., and Ephigenia K. Lindeman, Florida were charged today for violating the Fair Housing Act by targeting Hispanic homeowners in a predatory mortgage modification scheme that increased, rather than decreased, their risk of foreclosure.

The radio and television commercials seemed too good to be true; promising Hispanic homeowners to cut their mortgage payments in half, even offering $500 gift cards to entice them to sign up for loan modification assistance.  The defendants were targeting Hispanic families through a deceptive advertising campaign that aired on Spanish-language radio and television stations throughout Florida.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) made the announcement.

HUD’s charge, filed on behalf of three Orlando-area Hispanic families, alleges that at initial client meetings, Spanish-speaking ALG employees made false promises to entice families into paying significant upfront fees and to sign contracts that were predominantly, if not entirely, written in English.  After being retained, ALG knowingly placed their clients’ homes at imminent risk of foreclosure by instructing homeowners to stop making mortgage payments and to cease communicating with their mortgage lenders or servicers. Read HUD’s charge

In addition, HUD’s charge alleges that ALG neglected their clients’ cases and ignored bank requests for information. When homeowners complained about their mistreatment, ALG threatened them with increased mortgage payments, fines, or foreclosure if they sought to terminate their relationship.  ALG ultimately failed to obtain favorable mortgage modifications for their clients, while charging them thousands of dollars in up-front and recurring monthly fees.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination because of national origin in housing and housing related services, including home mortgage and loan modification services.  This includes targeting persons because of their national origin for fraudulent modification services.

As we peeled back the facts of this case, we were stunned by a business model built to target Hispanic homeowners,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.  “HUD will use the full weight of the law to protect families from those who would prey upon them because of where they come from or what language they speak.”

Intentionally targeting families with predatory mortgage services because of their national origin is a clear violation of the Fair Housing Act,” said Paul Compton, HUD’s General Counsel. “This charge sends a clear message that HUD will protect the housing rights of all persons to the fullest extent of the law.”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act, and the 30th anniversary of amendments to the Act prohibiting discrimination against persons with disabilities and families with children. This year, HUD, local communities, housing advocates, and fair housing organizations across the country are conducting a variety of activities to enhance awareness of fair housing rights, highlight HUD’s fair housing enforcement efforts, and end housing discrimination in the nation. Read more.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. People who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing.

 

Yant Garcia, 38, Hialeah, Florida pled guilty on September 5, 2018, to one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States.

According to the plea document, beginning around 2012, and continuing through around 2015, Garcia agreed with others to launder the proceeds of an identity theft tax refund scheme and mortgage fraud scheme by cashing checks in names of persons who were not present at check-cashing stores in Miami.

In or around 2013, Garcia’s co-conspirators submitted fraudulent tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) using stolen personal identity information seeking refunds ranging in value from $130,000 to $170,000.  In total, the Department of Treasury paid out approximately $4.3 million in fraudulent refund claims by mailing out tax refund checks.  The defendant and a co-conspirator met with the owner of a check-cashing store in Hialeah and the true owner of the store agreed to cash these checks for a thirty percent fee.

In or around 2015, Garcia and his co-conspirators engaged in a mortgage fraud scheme on a property in Miami Beach.  Garcia and his coconspirators submitted fraudulent loan applications and received approximately $3.7 million in proceeds from this mortgage fraud via interstate wire to the account of the fake title company in Miami.  Garcia then provided checks to co-conspirators who cashed these checks at check-cashing stores in South Florida in the names of payees who were not present.  http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Yant+Garcia

Garcia is scheduled to be sentenced on November 14, 2018 at 10:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke.

Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Robert Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office and Michael J. De Palma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) made the announcement.

Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and IRS-CI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael N. Berger.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Brian Roy Lozito, Jacksonville, Florida, has been charged today for deceptively marketing and selling mortgage and foreclosure relief services to consumers throughout the United States, defrauding consumers out of more than $160,000.

Lozito, while doing business as American Investigative Services, LLC allegedly deceived more than 150 consumers by claiming to provide services in return for payments upfront.

According to the complaint, American Investigative Services solicited upfront payments from consumers promising to conduct a forensic audit of consumers’ mortgage documentation in order to uncover evidence of improper robosigning, or improper notarization, assignment, or recording of the mortgage documents, or other technical deficiencies. The defendants told consumers that if these purported legal deficiencies were uncovered in mortgage documents, the lender would be unable to foreclose on the consumer’s mortgage, and the consumer would thereby own the home free and clear, even if the consumer stopped making mortgage payments to the lender. The defendants even claimed that consumers could recover mortgage payments the consumers had previously made to mortgage companies.

The complaint also alleges that the defendants performed none of the promised services, and instead used the money obtained from consumers to pay Lozito’s personal expenses. The complaint alleges violations of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, and seeks permanent injunctive relief, restitution, civil penalties and fees.

Attorney General Pam Bondi made the announcement.

Consumers who paid fees to the above-named entity or individual can file a complaint by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or file online at MyFloridaLegal.com

To view the complaint, click here.

Eric Granitur, 60, Vero Beach, Florida, an attorney, George Heaton, 75, West Palm Beach, Florida, a property developer and Stephen McKenzie, 46, Melbourne, Florida, a condominium buyer were sentenced today to prison for participating in a criminal conspiracy and making false statements to a federally insured institution.

According to the court record, in 2009, Eric Granitur owned and operated Live Oak Title, which conducted two real estate closings for the purchase of five condominiums at the Vero Beach Hotel and Spa.  The seller and developer of the Vero Beach Hotel and Spa, George Heaton paid numerous incentives to buyer Stephen McKenzie to purchase the condominiums.  Heaton agreed to pay the “cash-to-close” amount that the buyer McKenzie was expected to bring to closing, and nearly $380,000 in additional cash after closing.

Granitur’s title company, Live Oak Title, conducted the closings for the sales of the Vero Beach Hotel and Spa condominium units sold to buyer McKenzie.  As an escrow agent, Granitur was required to truthfully and accurately prepare and distribute a settlement statement to the financial institutions, known as a “HUD-1,” in preliminary form for review by the financial institution, prior to the closing of escrow.   The closing statement was required to accurately reflect, among other information, the sales price, the closing funds provided by the borrower and all of the seller’s contributions.  As an escrow agent, Granitur was responsible for receiving and holding in trust, in an escrow account, the mortgage loan proceeds from the financial institutions that financed the purchase of the condominium units, and he was responsible for disbursing those loan proceeds only after final approval by the financial institutions.

On two occasions, involving Vero Beach Hotel and Club condo units sold by Heaton to McKenzie, Granitur knowingly caused a false closing statement to be transmitted to a federally insured financial institution.  The HUD-1 closing statements failed to truthfully disclose seller credits and incentives.  Additionally, the closing statements failed to disclose that the seller was paying the buyer’s “cash-to-close.”  The financial institutions relied upon the closing statement in authorizing the release of funds.

U.S. District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg sentenced Granitur, Heaton and McKenzie to prison today.

Granitur was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release.  He was ordered to forfeit approximately $28,000.

Heaton, who pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government, was sentenced to 6 months in prison, 3 years of supervised release, and forfeited approximately $263,000.

McKenzie, who pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government, was sentenced to 4 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release.

Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; and Edwin Bonano, Special Agent in Charge, Tampa, Florida, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG) made the announcement.

Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and FHFA-OIG in this matter.  This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph A. Capone and Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel E. Funk.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

 

Three men were sentenced to prison Tuesday in a scheme that involved lying to lenders about the sale of luxury condos in Vero Beach, federal prosecutors said. Federal investigators said Vero attorney Eric Granitur, hotel developer George Heaton and buyer Stephen McKenzie conspired to lure prospective buyers to the condo units at Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa. Investigators said the men lied to bankers about incentive programs, including cash-to-close rebates. Court records show that banks lost about $3.3 million after providing more than $20 million in mortgage funds.

Source: Three sentenced in Vero condo mortgage fraud scheme | All News, Featured News Secondary, News | conspiracy, fraud, prison, sentencing, vero attorney, vero buyer, Vero News, vero property developer | Vero News