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Peter Cash Doye, 43, San Diego, California, a financial executive was sentenced today to 15 years in prison for his role as the “driving force” in a massive real estate loan scheme in which he and his co-conspirators stole nearly $50 million dollars from San Diego residents and lenders.

His co-defendant, Raquel Reid, 40, San Diego, California, a notary public and real estate broker, was previously sentenced to 65 months for her role in the fraud. The court also ordered Doye and Reid to pay more than $43 million in restitution to the victims.

According to the indictment and the evidence introduced at trial, the defendants defrauded lenders into making enormous loans against four multi-million dollar mansions in La Jolla and Del Mar, California then used forged documents to make it appear that the loans had been paid off, thereby enabling them to secure additional loans from new lenders who believed the mansions were owned “free and clear.”

Doye, a senior executive at the real estate investment firms Conix, Inc. and Variant Commercial Real Estate (“VCRE”), negotiated the financing from unsuspecting lenders and investors based on a host of lies about the collateral used to secure the loans.  To pull off the scam, Doye, Reid, and their co-conspirators created forged real estate lien “releases” and recorded fraudulent records at the San Diego County Recorder’s Office, complicating the chain of title for these homes.  Reid notarized the forged documents, helping to make the fraudulent paperwork appear authentic.

Doye’s business partner, Courtland Gettel,43, Coranado, California and Arizona attorney Jeffrey Greenberg, 67, Tucson, Arizona, who testified at the trial on behalf of the government, previously pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme and are serving sentences of 135 and 51 months, respectively. Gettel and Greenberg were also ordered to pay more than $43 million in restitution to victims, and to forfeit the proceeds of the crime.  Gettel was the owner of Conix and VCRE, which refurbished single-family homes, purchased distressed debt, and purchased and refurbished commercial real estate projects.

During trial, the government proved that Gettel, Greenberg, and Doye acquired the high-end homes in La Jolla and Del Mar, California by claiming they would be used as luxury rentals and investment properties, although in fact, Gettel and Doye lived in the properties along with their families. When they needed money to fund other business deals, Gettel and Doye began negotiating with new lenders, pretending that the first loans never existed or had already been paid off.  Greenberg admitted that he used his expertise as a lawyer to generate and record fraudulent records, making it appear that prior loans were paid off and helping to close the fraudulent deals.

In late 2014, the lenders began to uncover the fraud and learn that their secured interests in the properties were worthless.  In response to questions from these lenders, Doye, Reid and Gettel denied knowing anything about the fraudulent loans, and created yet more fraudulent documents to cover their tracks. For example, Reid destroyed her notary book and cut up her notary stamp, and then falsely reported to the California Secretary of State that her book had been lost.

This crime was a colossal $50 million swindle by a greedy, brazen thief who squandered the stolen money on lavish parties in Las Vegas, penthouse apartments, private jets and abundant drug use,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “The defendant’s extravagant lifestyle was funded by the hardships of his victims, who suffered health problems, emotional stress, financial uncertainty and strain on relationships. This sentence underscores the significant harm victims to and the integrity of our financial system, and is a testament to the hard work of FBI agents and prosecutors Emily Allen and Andrew Young.”

Today, final justice has been served in this multi-million dollar loan fraud scheme. All four defendants, including Doye, who was sentenced to 15 years in custody today, are no longer able to perpetrate their deceit and lies to fulfill their personal greed,” said FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner.   “The FBI remains committed to pursuing fraud schemes that erode the integrity of our financial system.”

During the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge William Q. Hayes described the defendant as “cold blooded” and the “driving force” behind an “overwhelmingly selfish act” that was motivated by “pure unmitigated greed.” He scolded the defendant for having a “callous attitude” toward his victims, and remarked about his testimony during trial. “After you said your name, I’m hard-pressed to remember anything you said that was truthful,” Judge Hayes said.

The pair was indicted on September 19, 2017 on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, and aggravated identity theft.  Reid was also charged with lying to a federal agent.  On November 20, 2018, after a two-week trial, a jury returned a guilty verdict on all charges against both defendants.

 

Angela Fawn Wallace, 57, West Hills, California, a former attorney, pleaded not guilty today to the charges, which include multiple counts each of identity theft, grand theft, forgery and procuring a false document for recording. Wallace has been charged with 72 felony counts for taking $2 million from elderly property owners and others in a real estate fraud scheme

From June 2014 through January 2017, Wallace allegedly befriended elderly victims or located properties where the owners were already deceased in order to get her name placed on the title to the properties.

The defendant is accused of using her legal expertise to ingratiate herself with the victims, said Deputy District Attorney Walter Mueller of the Real Estate Fraud Section, who is prosecuting the case.

The scheme targeted four properties in different areas of Los Angeles, California and affected about two dozen victims, including property owners, estates, trusts, investment companies, property management companies and notaries, Mueller said. Wallace allegedly either obtained loans secured by the properties or sold them to innocent purchasers, purportedly keeping virtually all of the proceeds for herself, the prosecutor said.

In one case, she allegedly had her name placed on the title, then rented several of the units and kept the rental proceeds for herself instead of giving them to the estate of the deceased owner.

The defendant has several prior felony convictions, including grand theft in 2003, 2007 and 2013; forgery in 2003; and recording false documents in 2007.

She also denied special allegations that include taking of more than $200,000 and prior convictions.

Wallace faces a maximum possible sentence of 40 years and four months in state prison if convicted as charged. Bail was set at $2.32 million.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 1, 2018 in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. Case BA468922 was filed July 2, 2018.

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

The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Investigation.

 

Thomas M. Murtha, 61, attorney, Newtown, Connecticut, and Birmingham, Michigan, was indicted by a grand jury and charged with four counts of wire fraud.  Murtha previously operated a law practice in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

As alleged in the indictment, between approximately November 2011 and April 2017, Murtha fraudulently obtained and converted hundreds of thousands of dollars from his victims, including clients of his law practice, family members and friends.  Murtha falsely represented to client-victims that he had safeguarded and disbursed the proceeds from legal representations when, in fact, he had used their money for his own benefit, including making payments to other victims.  In furtherance of the fraud, Murtha used false and forged documents, including at least one mortgage and a trust document.

It is alleged that Murtha used some of the stolen funds to purchase a $725,000 house in Michigan, a 2.11 carat diamond engagement ring, and other items.

If convicted, Murtha faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on each count of the indictment.

The indictment seeks the forfeiture of the Michigan house and the engagement ring, as well as a money judgment of at least $1,991,628.83, which constitutes proceeds of the alleged fraud scheme.

Murtha was arrested on a criminal complaint on April 5, 2017, and is released on a $10,000 bond.  His arraignment is not yet scheduled.

In September 2016, Murtha resigned from the bar after three grievance complaints were filed against him.

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced the indictment and noted that the investigation is ongoing.  Anyone with information that may be helpful to the investigation, or those who believe they have been victimized by this alleged scheme, are encouraged to contact Detective Robert McKiernan at (203) 382-6660.

The matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Greenwich Police Department.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Laraia and David Huang.

Edgar Avila aka Michael Mendez aka Michael Edgar Avila-Mendez, aka Michael AvMen was indicted on one charge of mail fraud and one charge of bank fraud in connection with two separate fraud schemes.

According to the affidavit in support of the arrest warrant, in January 2014, Avila submitted a loan application to purchase a residence at 2915 Legend Hill Drive, Katy, Texas.  On the application, he represented that he worked for AvMen Entertainment at 924 Town and County 800, Houston for a year and a half as a line producer with a salary of $13,600 per month.  He also stated he attended Devry College of Business from September 2009 through May 2013 to account for his history prior to working at AvMen. Paystubs along with a VOE faxed to the mortgage company confirmed this employment. The officer attesting to the affidavit stated that he was unable to find a legitimate business under the name AvMen and discovered that Avila created the entity as part of his fraud scheme.  An assumed name certificate for AvMen was filed in August 2010 using the same address as listed on Avila’s driver’s license.  The affiant also stated that he confirmed through several sources that Avila and Michael Avmen were the same person. Avila’s disclosed bank accounts did not reveal any income associated with AvMen – nor did they substantiate income nearing $13,000 per month.

To support his claims of attending Devry University, according to the affidavit, Avila submitted a college transcript containing the signature of John J. Getek, as college registrar.  Investigation showed that the Getek was not registrar for Devry, instead, in 2001 he was the Deputy Inspector General of Audit for the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General – and Getek’s digital signature was available online from his annual reports to Congress.

In March 2015, according to the affidavit, Avila defaulted on the loan.  In September 2015, the mortgage lender modified the loan and negotiated a payment plan, based on a statement from Avila that he was diagnosed with “cephalic neuralgias” and “Bell’s palsy.”  He claimed his illness caused him to lose his job and that his current job did not pay the same.  The affiant stated that while he could not rule out an illness, Avila was arrested by the Houston Police Department in 2015 “which is the more likely reason for his sudden lack of income.”

The loan was guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

The affidavit also details a vehicle related fraud scheme underlying the mail fraud charges where Avila allegedly provided a fake social security card, false Texas driver’s license and fake Devry University transcript to obtain a vehicle loan. According to the affiant, he then cleared title to the vehicle through a mechanic’s lien sale to himself and sold the vehicle to a Lexus dealership.

Alison Gu, a/k/a “Alison Ling,” “Ally Koo,” “Ai J. Chen,” “Ai Jen Chen,” “Ai Chen,” “Jing Shao,” “Yijing Gu,” “Yijing Lin,” “Alison Yi Gu,” was indicted by a federal grand jury in Vermont on June 16 2016 and charged with bank fraud, false statements and fraud with identification documents.

According to the indictment between March 2015 and September 2015, Gu executed a scheme to defraud financial institutions to obtain funds through submission of mortgage loan applications and refinancing applications containing false information. According to the indictment, Gu established false identities using the social security number of a deceased individual, submitted altered bank statements, forged employment identification forms, forged pay statement and a forged IRS W-2 form.  In addition, she submitted to Emigrant Mortgage Company false information regarding the actual identities of loan applicants, a forged signature of a U.S. consular official in Beijing, China, purporting to vest power of attorney in the name of one of the loan applicants, false visa identification information and a false certification of a non-existent accountant in China purporting to verify income.  Gu obtained mortgage loan of $417,000 from the Bank of Bennington, $230,250 from the First National Bank of America and $412,400 from Emigrant Mortgage.

The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, seeking forfeiture of, among other things, 389 Read Farm Road, Dorset, Vermont; 385 Cedar Avenue, Cocoa Beach, Florida; and 6 Old Snow Valley Road, Winhall, Vermont.

Gu’s arraignment was scheduled for June 29, 2016.

Aruna Kumari Chopra, 66, of Modesto, today to one year and one day in prison, to be followed by a year of home confinement, for her mail fraud conviction in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme

According to court documents, in 2008, Chopra purchased property on Dale Road, Modesto, California, that she intended to develop into a shopping center to be called “The Plaza at Dale.” She defrauded lenders by filing documents with the Stanislaus County Recorder’s Office that contained forged signatures in an attempt to conceal liens on the property from her lenders. The loans made by the defrauded lenders on the property totaled approximately $8.9 million. Chopra pleaded guilty on November 30, 2015. Continue Reading…

Xue Heu, 38, Modesto, California, was sentenced to five years and three months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1,166,366 in restitution, for investment fraud schemes in Fresno, California and Texas. Continue Reading…