Archives For inflated appraisal

Eugene Peter Kenworthy, Jr., 50, appraiser, Ambler, Pennsylvania, was charged by Indictment with wire fraud, false statements for the purpose of influencing the Federal Housing Administration, aggravated identity theft, and failure to file a tax return.

The indictment alleges that, beginning as early as 1993, Kenworthy worked at Tech Review LTD, a real estate appraisal company owned by Kenworthy’s father.  Kenworthy began managing Tech Review after his father’s death in 2003 and sold the company in 2012 after which he formed two other companies, Global Appraisal Management and East Coast Appraisal Management.

According to the indictment, from March 2010 to February 2016, Kenworthy appraised approximately 714 properties which were the subject of HECM loan applications.  Kenworthy used the electronic signatures of five certified appraisers without their knowledge and consent to certify approximately 294 of those appraisals reports.  Those appraisers did not appraise the properties or write the reports.  Kenworthy used his own signature to certify the other approximately 420 appraisal reports he wrote. Most of the appraisals were for a single mortgage broker/origination company which paid Kenworthy about $450 per appraisal.

Also according to the indictment, Kenworthy made false statements in some of the HECM appraisal reports which resulted in falsely inflated valuations for the properties and, fraudulently inflated the HECM loan amounts. The indictment details several of these transactions.

As of July 2017, of the 714 properties for which Kenworthy wrote an appraisal report for a HECM, FHA had paid 53 claims totaling almost $3.7 million on foreclosed properties where the sales price of the home was insufficient to cover the HECM loan.

Kenworthy was added to the FHA appraiser roster in 1999 and, in or about January 2016, HUD suspended Kenworthy, barring him from performing FHA appraisals.

If convicted the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence is 166 years’ imprisonment, five years of supervised release, a $5,050,000 fine, and a $1,000 special assessment

The indictment was announced Acting United States Attorney Louis Lappen. The case was investigated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Karen L. Grigsby.

James Nassida, 49, West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to one count of bank and wire fraud conspiracy before Senior United States District Judge Donetta Ambrose.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Nassida owned operated a mortgage brokerage business called Century III Home Equity (Century III), which assisted borrowers in obtaining loans collateralized by real estate. At the time of the events at issue, which was between 2002 and 2008, Century III was one of the largest mortgage broker businesses in the Western District of Pennsylvania, and during the course of that timeframe brokered hundreds of millions of dollars worth of loans using more than a dozen different lenders. Many of those loans, however, involved one or more aspects.

Some of the aspects of the fraud included the following:

  • Appraisals that fraudulently inflated the true value of the properties;
  • Settlement statements that falsely reflected that the borrowers made substantial payments associated with the purchases of real estate;
  • Settlement statements that failed to disclose secondary financing;
  • Settlement statements that failed to include cash payments charged by Century III and paid by the borrowers;
  • Settlement statements and closing documents that were backdated to reflect that the settlements had occurred on a date prior to the actual settlement date; and
  • Various loan documents, including loan approval forms, good faith estimates, and underwriting transmittal forms, that failed to disclose secondary financing and falsely represented the combined loan-to-value ratio.

The fraud also involved misrepresentations to some of the borrowers to induce them to enter into the transactions, including concealing the fees Century III received from lenders for the borrowers’ transactions and the impact of those fees on the borrowers’ interest rates; and concealing the nature of the mortgage products, including that some of the mortgage products could negatively amortize. Lastly, the fraud also involved James Nassida’s receipt of kickbacks from the settlement company that he failed to disclose to the borrowers and lenders, as required.

James Nassida submitted multiple fraudulent documents associated with loans in which he served as a loan officer. In addition, loan officers working under his direction regularly submitted false information to lenders and borrowers. Nassida also caused the submission of fake documents to the lender in connection with his purchase of a $300,000 vacation home near Seven Springs, including the following: (1) a settlement statement that overstated the sales price; (2) a loan application that falsely stated his income and assets; and (3) fake statements from an investment company that falsely verified that he had more than $600,000 in investment when he really had about $15,000. In the loan application, James Nassida reported that he earned approximately $980,000 in 2006, but he did not even file his tax returns in 2006, and his reported taxable income in 2004 and 2005 was not even close to that figure.

Judge Ambrose scheduled sentencing for January 10, 2018. The law provides for a total sentence of 30 years in prison, a fine of $1,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

The plea was announced by Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song.

Sam Tuttle, a vice-president and loan officer at PC Bank Home Loans, Ben Leske, a loan officer at PC Bank Home Loans, Angela Crozier, a senior loan processor at PC Bank Home Loans, and Ed Rounds, a loan officer at PC Bank Home Loans, were indicted by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma and charged with conspiracy to make false statements on loan applications and to commit bank fraud and bank fraud, .

According to the indictment, from 2004 through 2008, Tuttle, Leske, Crozier and Rounds, along with Shawn Portmann, a vice-president and loan officer at PC Bank Home Loans, Craig Meyer, a vice-president and loan officer at PC Bank Home Loans, and Alice Barney, Portmann’s personal assistant, and other co-conspirators, knowingly made false statements and willfully overvalued property for the purpose of influencing the actions of Pierce Commercial Bank and other federally insured financial institutions, in connection with applications for mortgage loans.  PC Bank Home Loans was a mortgage lending office of Pierce Commercial Bank. During the time they were employed at PC Bank Home Loans, the alleged conspirators originated in excess of 5,000 mortgage loans representing in excess of $1 billion in loan proceeds. The loans detailed in the indictment are alleged to have contributed to the failure of Pierce Commercial Bank.

The indictment alleges that the conspirators solicited individuals, including through mass marketing, who were seeking to purchase homes.  They were solicited to prepare and submit mortgage loan applications regardless of whether they might qualify for the loans. The co-conspirators caused loan applications to be prepared based upon fraudulent representations related to gross monthly income, employment status, rental status, assets and liabilities and whether the property would be used as a primary residence.  Sometimes the false statements were made with the knowledge of the borrowers and in other cases, the borrowers did not know the false statements were being inserted. If the borrowers did not qualify, co-conspirators would, at times, seek the assistance of Portmann and other co-conspirators for advice on how to falsely modify the loan applications to ensure they passed underwriting.  Among the assistance provided by Portmann was the use of his assistant, Barney, to provide a Verification of Rent form for inclusion in the loan package, that falsely asserted the borrower was paying rent for an apartment owned by Portmann when, in fact, the borrower was not residing in, and had never resided in, the apartment.

The indictment further alleges that the co-conspirators would collude with third parties, including appraisers, to ensure the loans successfully closed.  The co-conspirators would pressure appraisers to generate specific values, even when told that the values were not supported by appraisal methods.

The indictment also alleges that when there were defaults on loans that were sold into the secondary market, the co-conspirators would take steps to ensure that Pierce Commercial Bank and the secondary investors did not discovery the underlying fraudulent statements.  The efforts included Portmann, Tuttle and Meyer forming a separate company to buy defaulted loans back from secondary investors so that no further investigation would be done on the defaulted loans.

According to the indictment, the fraudulent scheme caused in excess of $9.5 million in losses to Pierce Commercial Bank, secondary investors and HUD/FHA.

Janna Nassida, 45, West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, and James Nassida, 48, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, were charged by a federal grand jury in a two count indictment with wire and bank fraud conspiracy.

According to the indictment, from 2002 to 2008 James Nassida and his sister Janna Nassida knowingly conspired with other individuals known to the grand jury to defraud lenders and consumers. James and Janna Nassida worked at Century III Home Equity, a mortgage broker firm. The fraud scheme involved the submission of loan applications to lenders that contained material misrepresentations about the borrowers’ financial conditions, such as inflating borrowers’ incomes and assets. James and Janna Nassida, along with others who worked at Century III, also submitted bogus supporting documentation for the misrepresentations contained in the applications, as well as appraisals that overstated the values of the properties serving as collateral for the loans.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 60 years in prison, a fine of $2,000,000 or both.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney David J. Hickton.  Assistant United States Attorney Brendan T. Conway is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

Kevin Campbell, 53, Pyesville, Maryland, was sentenced to 19 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiring to commit mail, wire and bank fraud arising from mortgage fraud schemes resulting in losses totaling approximately $1.2 million and was ordered to pay restitution of $1,182,822.

Jonathan L. Miles, 45, Perry Hall, Maryland to 18 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiring to commit bank fraud, and entered an order that Miles pay restitution of $1,182,822.

Campbell invested in Baltimore residential real estate, and controlled four companies that bought and sold residential real estate: KMJ Realty LLC; E&W Realty LLC; C Realty LLC; and City Realty LLC. Miles was a loan officer for a mortgage brokerage company formerly located in Reisterstown, Maryland. Continue Reading…

Kenneth Sweetman, 34, Nutley, New Jersey, was sentenced to 24 months in prison for his role in a massive mortgage fraud scheme involving multiple properties in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  Sweetman previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court: Continue Reading…