Archives For Illinois

Mark Steven Diamond, 67, Chicago, Illinois, pleaded guilty today to a federal fraud charge for bilking elderly homeowners in a home repair and reverse mortgage scheme.

Diamond schemed with others to induce homeowners to unwittingly obtain reverse mortgage loans to pay for purported home repairs that Diamond offered to perform.  Diamond and the co-schemers targeted elderly victims based on the amount of equity in their homes and their relative lack of financial sophistication.  In some instances, Diamond concealed from the homeowners that they were applying for reverse mortgage loans by falsely representing that they needed to sign certain documents to start the repair work, when, in fact, the documents that Diamond caused them to sign were related to applying for the loan.  After the loans were approved and originated by co-schemers, Diamond fraudulently pocketed the loan proceeds and often failed to perform any repairs.

Diamond pleaded guilty to a federal charge of wire fraud affecting a financial institution, which is punishable by up to 30 years in federal prison.  Diamond acknowledged in a plea agreement that he victimized at least 18 Chicago-area homeowners by fraudulently obtaining approximately $929,000 from financial institutions in the form of reverse mortgage loan proceeds.  It will be the government’s position at sentencing that there were at least 80 victims and that Diamond’s actions caused at least approximately $6 million in losses.  U.S. District Judge Franklin U. Valderrama set Diamond’s sentencing for Sept. 4, 2024.

The guilty plea was announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Machelle L. Jindra, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General in Chicago, and Robert W. “Wes” Wheeler, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI.  Substantial Assistance was provided by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.  The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian P. Netols and Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Kelly.

All four co-schemers charged in the investigation – loan originators Gary Bohn, Hoffman Estates, Illinois., and Matthew Fefferman, Munster, Indiana., Diamond’s employee Cynthia Wallace, Sauk Village, Illinois., and title agency owner Forrest C. Fawcett, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. – previously pleaded guilty and admitted their roles in the fraud.  They are awaiting sentencing.

Diamond plea agreement

David Izsak, 48, Chicago, Illinois, a licensed real estate professional and the sole proprietor of Premier Assets Inc. and Premier Properties Enterprises, Inc., was convicted of scheming to defraud multiple financial institutions out of $4 million.

From 2005 to 2018, Izsak engaged in a scheme to defraud financial institutions by obtaining residential loans through false statements, concealing the existence of unpaid loans, and falsely obtaining credit.  As part of the scheme, Izsak submitted or caused to be submitted to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds fictitious lien releases.  In reality, the releases were not from the lender and the loans were not paid in full.  In one instance, after causing a lien to be released, Izsak sold the property to an unsuspecting buyer.  In another instance, he obtained six mortgages on a single property, obtaining a new loan after fictitiously releasing the prior loan without repaying it.  Izsak also obtained a loan to buy a 57-foot yacht known as the “Flying Lady” by submitting fraudulent tax returns and financial information to the lender.  The yacht was seized in 2019 by federal authorities.

After a week-long trial in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the jury on Friday convicted Izsak on ten counts of financial institution fraud, each of which is punishable by up to 30 years in federal prison.  U.S. District Judge Manish S. Shah set sentencing for July 9, 2024.  The government at sentencing will seek forfeiture from Izsak of approximately $4 million.

The verdict was announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Robert W. “Wes” Wheeler, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI Chicago Field Office, and Ruth M. Mendonça, Inspector-in-Charge of the Chicago Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.    The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick J. King, Jr., and Elly M. Peirson.

 

Albert Rossini, 73, Skokie, Illinois, the owner of Devon Street Investments was sentenced Tuesday on multiple counts of mail fraud and wire fraud for a scheme with an attorney and two others to sell millions of dollars in phony mortgages.

Evidence at trial revealed that Rossini plotted with father-and-son co-defendants Babajan Khoshabe,  Chicago, Illinois and Anthony Khoshabe, Skokie, Illinois, to fraudulently induce more than a dozen victims into purchasing purported mortgage notes on apartment buildings in or near foreclosure.  The defendants fraudulently promised that investors would receive title to the properties at the conclusion of the foreclosure process.  In reality, the defendants did not own the mortgage notes, and instead the victims’ funds were misappropriated and used to make Ponzi-type payments to some of the investors.

The victims provided a total of more than $7 million in investment money to the defendants, and Rossini fraudulently pocketed more than $2.5 million of it.

A separate federal jury in 2019 convicted the Khoshabes for their roles in the scheme.  They are awaiting sentencing.

A fourth defendant, Chicago attorney Thomas Murphy, claimed to validate the sale of the mortgage notes through a phony “Guaranty Agreement” that he prepared and gave to Rossini to present to the victims.  Murphy pleaded guilty and admitted his role in the scheme.  He is awaiting sentencing.

The sentence was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI; William Hedrick, Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago; Michael Powell, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General in Chicago; and Thomas J. Dart, Cook County Sheriff.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney John D. Mitchell.

 

Marco Lurigio, also known as “Demetrio Cardone,” 45 and Sandy Lurigio, also known as “Janette Chavez,” 39, Downers Grove, Illinois,  a husband and his wife, have been charged in federal court in Chicago with participating in a mortgage fraud scheme that defrauded financial institutions out of at least $2.5 million.

The Lurigio’s owned several Illinois-based companies, including S&G Technologies Inc., O.C. Management Group Inc., Riverview Financial Inc., and Toro Management, Inc.  According to the indictment, the Lurigios recruited buyers to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans for properties on Chicago’s South Side by making and causing to be made materially false representations in documents submitted to financial institutions.  The false representations included documents and statements regarding, among other things, the buyers’ employment, income, assets, source of down payment, and intention to occupy the property as a primary residence, the indictment states.  In some instances, the Lurigios fraudulently claimed to lenders that the buyers were employed by one of the Lurigios’ companies, even though they knew that was untrue, the indictment states.  The alleged fraud scheme lasted from 2011 to 2014, the indictment states.

The indictment was returned Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago.  It charges Marco Lurigio, and Sandy Lurigio with eight counts of financial institution fraud.  Arraignments have not yet been scheduled.

The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Michael Powell, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason Yonan and Alejandro Ortega.

The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  Each count of financial institution fraud is punishable by up to 30 years in federal prison.  If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

 

David Litman, 41, the village of Foosland, Illinois, has been ordered to report to federal prison to begin serving a two-year sentence for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud in connection with a real estate short-sale scheme.

On Dec. 17, 2019, Litman pleaded guilty to conspiring with others, between 2008 and 2010, to defraud lending institutions in a series of short-sale transactions. Specifically, Litman caused false broker price opinions undervaluing residential properties to be submitted to financial institutions holding the mortgages of the properties, which he intended to purchase via a short sale. Litman submitted additional false documents to the financial institutions to induce them to approve requested short sales, including falsified listing agreements and proof-of-funds letters. The financial institutions, relying on the false broker price opinions, false real estate commission expenses, false listing agreements, and other false documentation, approved short sales of properties to Litman for payments that were less than they otherwise would have been likely to receive.

In addition, Litman caused the recording of false expenses, including false real estate commissions, on HUD-1 settlement statements documenting the short sales into which he entered. Litman also attempted to conceal certain of these false real estate commission expenses through the late issuance of commission checks.

Following the March 10, 2021, sentencing, U.S. District Judge James E. Shadid further ordered Litman to pay $279,900 in restitution and to serve two years on supervised release upon completion of his prison term.

The defendant’s repeated acts of fraud over several years caused lending institutions to lose a significant amount of money,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Doug Quivey. “The defendant’s participation in the scheme thwarted the lenders’ ability to accurately value the homes involved and prevented them from recouping a greater portion of their losses on the homeowners’ mortgages. Fraud in any part of the mortgage industry ultimately costs both lenders and borrowers and can’t be tolerated.”

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine V. Boyle and Eugene L. Miller represented the government in the prosecution. The charges were investigated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

 

Andrzej Lajewski, 53, formerly of Wheeling, Illinois, a real estate developer, who owned Des Plaines-based Highland Consulting Corp., and Chicago-based Quality Management and Remodeling Inc., has been indicted with three others for allegedly participating in a mortgage fraud scheme that defrauded financial institutions out of at least $3 million.

According to an indictment returned Jan. 28, 2021, Lajewski schemed with two mortgage professionals and the owner of a remodeling company to fraudulently obtain at least $3 million in mortgage loans by making and causing to be made materially false representations to financial institutions regarding the buyers’ qualifications for the loans. The false representations concerned the buyers’ employment history, income, assets, source of down payment, and intention to occupy the properties, the indictment states.  In some instances Lajewski fraudulently claimed to lenders that the buyers were employed by his companies – even though he knew that was untrue – to help the buyers qualify for the mortgage loans, the indictment states.

The alleged fraud scheme lasted from 2010 to 2016 and involved numerous properties on the South Side of Chicago.

The indictment charges multiple counts of financial institution fraud against Lajewski, and two mortgage professionals – loan originator Agnieszka Siekowski, 46, Northbrook, Illinois and loan processor Aldona Bobrowicz, 45, Arlington Heights, Illinois and the home remodeler, Andrzej Bukowski, 66, formerly of Wheeling, Illinois.  Arraignments for Siekowski and Bobrowicz are scheduled for Friday at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Martha M. Pacold.  Arraignments for Lajewski and Bukowski have not yet been scheduled.

The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Brad Geary, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kalia Coleman and Jason Yonan.

The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  Each count of financial institution fraud is punishable by up to 30 years in federal prison.  If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

 

Mohammad Shabazz Khan, Bourbannais, Illinois was indicted yesterday on four counts of making false claims to obtain federal mortgage assistance funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program’s billion-dollar component Hardest Hit Fund (HHF), which was provided to Indiana’s housing finance agency to help unemployed and underemployed homeowners stay in their homes. The indictment alleges the defendant took assistance but did not live in his home.

Khan received $29,926.46 in mortgage assistance to which he was not entitled.

The Hardest Hit Fund was meant to help Indiana families stay in their homes in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis. The Hardest Hit Fund program in Indiana is administered by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. In order to receive this mortgage assistance, an applicant was required to be an Indiana homeowner; own only one home; and reside in that home.

If convicted, any specific sentence to be imposed will be determined by the Judge after a consideration of federal statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP). This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Molly Kelley. SIGTARP was created as an independent law enforcement agency to investigate fraud, waste, and abuse related to the TARP bailout. To date, SIGTARP investigations have resulted in the recovery of over $11.2 billion, 389 criminal convictions and 305 defendants sentenced to prison.

The United States Attorney’s Office emphasizes that an Indictment is merely an allegation and that all persons are presumed innocent until, and unless proven guilty in court.

United States Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II, made the announcement.

I commend the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana for standing with SIGTARP to combat fraud against homeownership preservation programs,” said Christy Goldsmith Romero, Special Inspector General.

To report a suspected crime related to TARP, call SIGTARP’s Crime Tip Hotline: 1-877-SIG-2009 (1-877-744-2009). To receive alerts about reports, audits, media releases, and other SIGTARP news, sign up at www.SIGTARP.gov/pages/press.aspx. Follow SIGTARP on Twitter @SIGTARP.

Mohammed Shahbaz Khan, 45, Bourbonnais, Illinois was indicted for making false claims in connection with his receipt of money from the Hardest Hit Fund, a federal mortgage assistance initiative offered by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.

According to the indictment, the purpose of the Hardest Hit Fund was to help stabilize communities in states, like Indiana, that were “hardest hit” by the 2008 economic and housing market downturn.  The Hardest Hit Fund program in Indiana is administered by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.  In order to receive this mortgage assistance, an applicant was required to be an Indiana homeowner; own only one home; and reside in that home.

The indictment alleges that Khan knowingly submitted false statements about his residency in order to obtain Hardest Hit Fund mortgage assistance on an Indiana property, while living elsewhere.  Over 18-months, Khan allegedly received $29,926.46 in mortgage assistance, to which he was not entitled.

U.S. Attorney Kirsch made the announcement.

Today, an Illinois man was charged with defrauding a long-term federal economic stability program, intended to help people stay in their homes, knowing that he did not qualify,” said Christy Goldsmith Romero, Special Inspector General of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Program (SIGTARP).  “We commend the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana for standing with SIGTARP to combat fraud against homeownership preservation programs.

The United States Attorney’s Office emphasizes that an Indictment is merely an allegation and that all persons are presumed innocent until, and unless proven guilty in court.

If convicted, any specific sentence to be imposed will be determined by the Judge after a consideration of federal statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP).  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Molly Kelley.

 

 

Sergio Garcia, Sr., 50, Chicago, Illinois and Sergio Garcia, Jr., 30, of Lowell, Indianapolis were sentenced on their guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

According to documents in the case, between January 1, 2011 and May 31, 2014, the Garcias conspired with others to engage in a scheme to defraud HUD and to obtain money and property by means of false pretenses, representations and promises.  The scheme involved contracting with HUD to buy more than 87 homes in Indiana and Illinois and attempting to sell them for a profit the same day. The purchase contracts the conspirators provided to HUD stated that they or one of their businesses were purchasing the properties as investors and would pay with cash or use other financing not involving FHA. To support their claimed ability to pay for the homes, the conspirators mailed fraudulent letters purporting to show that they or their company had access to the funds needed to complete each purchase.  Many of the letters purported to be written by a private venture capital business and falsely stated that the Garcias or their business held a line of credit of up to $500,000.00, when in fact, as the conspirators well knew: the letters were forged and counterfeited; the lines of credit referenced therein did not exist; and the signatures thereon were forged and unauthorized.

Once under contract to purchase homes from HUD, the conspirators advertised the homes for subsequent resale and placed their own “for sale” signs at the homes. When the conspirators could not find a subsequent purchaser to buy the homes, they allowed their purchase contracts with HUD to expire and filed false liens on the homes for the full purchase price, impeding HUD’s ability to sell the homes to others. In some instances, the conspirators demanded money from would-be subsequent purchasers to release the false liens on the HUD-owned homes.

Garcia, Sr. was sentenced to serve 70 months in prison followed by 2 years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $471,571.06 in restitution to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) and $3,862 in restitution to other victims of his crime.

Garcia, Jr. was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison followed by 1 year of supervised release and was ordered to pay $24,819.53 in restitution to HUD and $202.25 to other victims of his crime

This sentencing serves as an example that when housing professionals defraud the system of rules sponsored by  HUD, the HUD Office of Inspector General will continue to partner with both the U. S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI to pursue those individuals to ensure the integrity of its federal housing programs.

If you attempt to defraud the system and violate public trust, we will find you, we will investigate you, and we will ensure you are held accountable for your illegal actions,” said Special Agent in Charge Grant Mendenhall, FBI Indianapolis. “Today’s sentence should serve as a warning to others that the FBI and our partners will continue to pursue those who would seek to blatantly commit fraud.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the HUD Office of Inspector General.  The case was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Jill R. Koster.

 

Jason Schiff, 40, Lincolnwood, Illinois is charged with three counts of bank fraud, according to a superseding indictment returned July 24, 2019.  The superseding indictment also charges Jason Schiff’s brother, Yale Schiff, 44, Riverwoods, Illinois with 12 counts of bank fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

According to the charges against the Schiffs, Yale Schiff made false statements in loan applications to obtain millions of dollars in mortgage loans secured by a variety of properties.  The charges allege that Yale Schiff filed with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds fraudulent letters from financial institutions claiming that loans on the properties were paid in full and that the mortgages were released, when, in fact, the loans were not paid in full and the mortgages had not been released.  Yale Schiff then kept the financing paid by the banks, as well as proceeds from the eventual sales of the properties, without paying the mortgages, the indictment states.  The fraud allegedly committed by Jason Schiff arose out of bank loans for vehicles and a loan secured by real estate purchased from Yale Schiff.

A separate indictment returned July 17, 2019, charges Yale Schiff’s business associate, David Izsak, 44, Chicago, Illinois with eleven counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.  During the investigation, federal authorities seized Izsak’s 57-foot Carver 570 Voyager yacht known as the “Flying Lady.”  The indictment seeks forfeiture of the yacht, as well as a personal money judgment against Izsak of approximately $4 million.  Izsak pleaded not guilty at his arraignment earlier this month.

The charges against Izsak accuse him of fraudulently obtaining loans secured by real estate and vehicles.  Izsak allegedly submitted or caused to be submitted to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds fake letters purporting to be from the lender, purporting to congratulate Izsak for paying his loan in full and releasing the lien.  In reality, the letters were not from the lender, the loans were not paid in full, and the liens were not released, the indictment states.

Izsak and Yale Schiff are each accused of fraudulently obtaining loans by using names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth that did not belong to them.  Izsak also used a stolen identity to obtain a credit card, while Yale Schiff used fake and stolen identities to fraudulently obtain a charge card at Nordstrom department store and loans for a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a Lexus RX350, the indictment states.

Yale Schiff was initially charged in the case last month.  The Schiffs pleaded not guilty today.

The indictments were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the FBI; and Craig Goldberg, Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheri H. Mecklenburg.

The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  Each bank fraud count is punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, while each count of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory sentence of two years.  If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.