Archives For Florida

David Cevallos, real estate agent, 46, Miami, Florida, and Osbel Sanchez, real estate agent, 45, Tampa, Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution. Each faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. Sanchez’s sentencing hearing has been set for April 24, 2017, and Cevallos’s sentencing hearing has been set for May 8, 2017.

According to the plea agreements, between summer 2008 and January 2009, Cevallos and Sanchez conspired with each other and others to fraudulently induce lenders into making mortgage loans based upon false information. This conspiracy involved a series of real estate transactions where the parties, including Cevallos and Sanchez, would make or cover up false statements made to the lenders regarding the source of down payments for the real estate transactions, and the manner in which the mortgage funds would be distributed. Most of these transactions involved Tribute Residential, a real estate development company operated by co-conspirator Rebecca Gheiler, as the seller.

Specifically, the parties represented to the lenders that down payments for these properties were being provided by the individuals purchasing the properties, when in fact they were provided by Cevallos or Sanchez. After the transactions had closed and the mortgage funds were released to Tribute Residential, Gheiler would arrange for the post-closing payments of the mortgage proceeds to be provided to Cevallos’s real estate firm, Metro Brokers. These post-closing payments reimbursed Cevallos for the money that he or Sanchez had provided to cover the buyer’s down payments, and to provide post-closing commissions from funds that were supposed to go to the seller. As a result, the lenders were unknowingly funding the down payment for the transactions (as well as undisclosed commissions) from the mortgage proceeds themselves, and were being misled as to the true value of the properties for which they were providing loans.

United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III made the announcement.

The case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vincent S. Chiu and Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

Miguel Soto, Jr., 46, Miami, Florida; Hector Raul Santana, 38, Miami Lakes, Florida; Miguel Faraldo, 52, Miami, Florida; Barbara E. Zas, 46, Miami, Florida; Maria Rosa Diaz, 45, Miami Springs, Florida; Heberto Elias Gamboa, 31, Miami, Florida; Michael Jose Gonzalez, 31, Miami, Florida; Jenny Nillo, 50, Miami, Florida; Jaime Jesus Sola Avila, 59, Miami, Florida; Jorge Angel Sola, 31, Miami, Florida; Emily Marie Echavarria, 50, Miami, Florida; Eduardo Cruz Toledo, 50, Miami, Florida;  Yanet Huet, 44, Miami, Florida; Carlos Mesa, Jr., 36, St. Petersburg, Florida;  Yipsy Rabelo Clavelo, 45, Pompano Beach, Florida; Jose Salazar, 49, Miami, Florida; and Cynthia Velasquez, 39, Miami, Florida were charged a 17-count indictment with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and various substantive bank fraud offenses.

According to allegations contained in the indictment:

During 2007 and 2008, the defendants conspired to perpetrate a complex mortgage fraud scheme against various FDIC-insured lenders.

The defendants conspired to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans for unqualified buyers of units in two condominium projects on the west coast of Florida: Portofino at Largo, also known as Indian Palms, Largo, Florida; and Bayshore Landing, Tampa, Florida.

Miguel Soto, Jr. was the acting manager of two Florida companies that sold the condominium units to the unqualified buyers: Indian Palms Holdings, LLC, and 5221 Bayshore, LLC. Hector Raul Santana served as the Director of Sales for Indian Palms Holdings, LLC.

Maria Rosa Diaz was the president of Crisvan Investment Group, Inc., a Miami-based mortgage broker business that prepared and submitted the unqualified buyers’ fraudulent loan applications and supporting documents to the lenders.

Miguel Faraldo, Jenny Nillo, Jorge Angel Sola, and Heberto Elias Gamboa operated “marketing companies” that were used to launder the fraudulently obtained loan proceeds and perpetuate the fraud scheme. In particular, Faraldo operated All Florida Marketing, Inc., Nillo and Jorge Sola operated One Stop Consulting Solutions, Inc., and Gamboa operated HHWC Management Group, Inc.

Soto, Santana, Faraldo, Zas, Diaz, Nillo, Jaime Sola, Emily Echavarria, Eduardo Cruz Toledo, and other co-conspirators recruited unqualified buyers to purchase units in Portofino at Largo and Bayshore Landing. These unqualified buyers included Michael Gonzalez, Yanet Huet, Carlos Mesa, Jr., Yipsy Rabelo Clavelo, Jose Salazar, Jorge Sola, and Cynthia Velasquez.

Soto, Santana, Faraldo, Zas, Diaz, Nillo, Jaime Sola, Echavarria, Cruz, and other co-conspirators, made fraudulent statements to unqualified buyers to induce their purchases.

The defendants submitted fraudulent loan applications to induce the lenders to make mortgage loans to the unqualified buyers. The submitted loan applications contained false and fraudulent statements relating to: the borrower’s occupation of, or intent to occupy, the mortgaged property as a residence; the borrower’s employment, income, and assets; the borrower’s liabilities; the borrower’s payment of an earnest money deposit and cash-to-close; the sellers’ payment of kick-backs to the borrowers; and other information that was material to the borrower’s qualifications to borrow money from the lenders and the values of the mortgage properties.

Miguel Soto, Jr., Hector Santana, Maria Diaz and their co-conspirators agreed to submit the unqualified buyers’ fraudulent mortgage loan applications to the lenders through certain mortgage broker firms, including Diaz’s company, Crisvan Investment Group, Inc.

Miguel Soto, Jr. and Hector Santana agreed with one another, and with other co-conspirators, that the settlement agents for the purchase transactions would disburse mortgage loan proceeds for the purchase of condominium units in Portofino at Largo and Bayside Landing, even though the borrowers would not pay the earnest the money deposits and/or cash-to-close required by their loan applications and HUD-1 Settlement Statements.

Miguel Soto, Jr. and Hector Santana agreed with Miguel Faraldo, Jenny Nillo, Jorge Sola, and Heberto Gamboa, and with other co-conspirators, that the settlement agents would use some of the proceeds from certain of the fraudulently obtained mortgage loans to pay a fictitious “marketing fee” to one of the “marketing companies.” Faraldo, Nillo, Sola, and Gamboa would then cause their companies to pay some of those funds to the unqualified buyers as an undisclosed kick-back for buying their units.

If convicted, the defendants face a statutory maximum term of 30 years’ imprisonment, a $1 million fine, and mandatory restitution, on each count in the indictment.

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

Mr. Ferrer commends the investigative efforts of the FHFA-OIG, FBI and MDPD. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dwayne E. Williams.

Ross D. Pickard, 63, Naples, Florida, was indicted and charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of loan and credit application fraud.

According to the indictment, Pickard was a senior loan officer at JP Morgan Chase Bank. He conspired with others in a scheme to defraud the bank by completing, certifying, and submitting mortgage loan applications on behalf of borrowers that contained false and fraudulent statements. The false statements included, but were not limited to, false occupancy, overinflated income and assets, as well as the understated liabilities. By relying on Pickard’s false and fraudulent statements on the loan applications, JP Morgan Chase was induced into funding mortgage loans for otherwise unqualified borrowers.

If convicted, he faces up to 5 years in federal prison for the conspiracy count and up to 30 years on each of the fraud counts. The indictment also notifies him that the United States is seeking a money judgment for the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.

United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announced the indictment.  The case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations Division. It will be prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

Marco Laureti, 45, Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, and Felix Mostelac, 44, Miami Beach, Florida, were charged by Indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution, and multiple counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution. Michelle Cabrera, 48, Miami Lakes, Florida, and Pedro Melian, 39, Hialeah, Florida, were charged by criminal Information with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution. If convicted, each defendant faces up to thirty years’ imprisonment on each charged count.

According to court documents, defendants Laureti, Mostelac, Cabrera and Melian were involved with a $10 million mortgage fraud scheme. Laureti was a former newspaper publisher and owner of Laureti Publishing Company, in addition to being a licensed real estate sales associate and mortgage broker. Mostelac was Laureti’s associate and also the owner of several companies. Cabrera owned Florida Elite Title & Escrow in Davie, Florida, and served as the title agent for these transactions. Melian also owned several companies.

According to court documents, the defendants engaged in a fraud scheme involving a condominium complex located at 45 Hendricks Isle, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Defendants Laureti, Mostelac and Melian made false and fraudulent statements to a financial institution on loan applications and closing statements for the multi-million dollar condominiums. Once the loans were approved, defendant Cabrera, at Laureti’s direction, diverted the loan proceeds to fund the cash the borrower was expected to bring to the property’s closing, as well as diverting additional monies from the loan proceeds to various companies owned by Laureti and Mostelac. Furthermore, according to court documents, Laureti and Mostelac utilized the same scheme on the loan applications and closing statements to purchase their own multi-million dollar residential properties in Miami Beach, in addition to Laureti directing Cabrera to divert funds. The defendants’ scheme defrauded the financial institution of approximately $10 million.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Katz.

Stevie McDonald, 42, Winter Haven, Florida, was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for bank fraud related to his role in a mortgage fraud conspiracy. As part of his sentence, the Court ordered him to pay restitution to J.P. Morgan Chase Bank in the amount of $74,868.

According to court records, 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 employment. In December 2007, during the course of 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 the loan.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.

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.

 

Michael Johnson, 56, Odessa, Florida, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for embezzlement and misapplication of funds. As part of his sentence, the Court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $152,783, the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.  Johnson was adjudicated guilty on July 8, 2016.

According to the plea agreement and court proceedings, Johnson was employed as a Senior Vice President/Special Assets Officer at American Momentum Bank, an FDIC insured institution that was a member bank of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas. In this capacity, he was responsible for marketing and selling bank-owned properties to investors in order to remove these troubled assets from American Momentum Bank’s balance sheet. Johnson signed the closing documents, including the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, on behalf of American Momentum Bank.

Beginning around June 2012, and continuing through November 2014, Johnson devised a scheme to misapply and embezzle funds provided by American Momentum Bank. After the sale of bank-owned property had been approved by American Momentum Bank, Johnson set up closings with real estate settlement agents. Johnson then contacted the settlement agents and ordered additions and/or changes to the disbursement side of the HUD-1. After closing, funds from American Momentum were misapplied by directing checks to be written or the wiring of funds to bank accounts that were controlled by Johnson’s family members.

Johnson was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore. This case was investigated by the Unites States Secret Service, the Tampa Police Department, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

Rebecca Gheiler, 49, Miami, Florida, was indicted and charged with conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud and six counts of bank fraud.

According to the indictment, Tribute Residential, LLC (“Tribute”), which was controlled by Gheiler, owned and sold condominium communities.  To entice buyers to purchase condominium units in these communities, Gheiler developed a program of incentives.  As part of this program, buyers were promised that Tribute would pay the mortgage and homeowners’ association dues during the buyer’s first two years of occupancy.  Other incentives developed and paid for by Gheiler included upfront cash to close and/or kickbacks to buyers after closing.  During each transaction, the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, signed by Gheiler as the seller, contained falsified information regarding the terms of each transaction, including the actual down payment amount paid by the buyer. In order to conceal the incentives from the mortgage lenders, Gheiler directed her co-conspirator, Angel Garcia-Oliver, to form companies that received monies from Tribute that were eventually paid to buyers and entities controlled by other co-conspirators.

If convicted, Gheiler faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison on each count.  The indictment also notifies Gheiler that the United States is seeking a forfeiture money judgment.

Garcia-Oliver previously pleaded guilty for his role in this case. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 9, 2017.

United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announced the indictment. The case was investigated by Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vincent Chiu and Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

Marek Harrison, 53, Plant City, Florida, Brian Allard,45, Seminole, Florida, and Scot Rounds, 44, Winter Garden, Florida were indicted and charged with bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

According to the indictment, Harrison and Allard created and executed a mortgage fraud scheme involving Saratoga Resort Villas, a condo conversion of a former hotel located in Kissimmee, Florida.  The scheme involved kickbacks of mortgage proceeds to buyers and co-conspirators and misrepresentations regarding the source of down payment funds.  None of the incentives and kickbacks were disclosed to the mortgage lenders.  Harrison and Allard recruited the buyers and found individuals to front down payment money for those buyers.  Rounds, a mortgage broker, brokered the loans for the transactions, recruited straw purchasers, and distributed kickbacks to buyers.

If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison on each count.  The indictment also notifies the defendants that the United States is seeking a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.

The case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General.  It will be prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor and Assistant United States Attorney Vincent Chiu.

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.