Archives For Kickbacks

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.

Dianna F. Woods, 59, Citrus Heights, California, was found guilty after a four–day trial, a federal jury found day of four counts of making false statements on loan applications.

According to evidence presented at trial, Woods was a licensed real estate salesperson who worked at a company called VLD Realty, doing business as Trade House USA, in the Sacramento, California, area. VLD built and sold houses in residential developments in Sacramento, Carmichael, and Copperopolis, California. As the housing market began to weaken from 2006 through 2008, VLD sought to sell the houses by offering incentives to buyers. VLD offered to pay the down payment or offered to give the buyers money after the sale, neither of which was disclosed to the lenders. For her part, Woods purchased two houses based on the undisclosed kickbacks. Further, for the purpose of obtaining loans to purchase the properties, Woods signed and submitted loan applications and other documents that contained false statements as to Woods’s income, employment, assets, the purpose of the property, the sales price, and whether the down payment was borrowed. Woods also assisted another buyer in making false statements to the lenders to get loans for the purchase of two properties in the housing developments and falsely verified his employment.

To date, six other defendants have been found guilty or have pleaded guilty in three related cases.

Woods is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge William B. Shubb on February 27, 2017. Woods faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine on each count.

The verdict was announced United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert.  This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Shelley Weger and Todd Pickles are prosecuting the case.

Aleksandr Kovalev, 53, Rocklin, California, pleaded guilty to wire fraud involving financial institutions in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme involving the purchase of at least 31 properties.

According to court documents, Kovalev was in the business of developing, building and selling property in Sacramento, Fairfield and Stockton, California. As the real estate market began to weaken, Kovalev offered to make incentive payments to purchasers, through “down payment assistance” or by making other payments to the buyers to be used in whatever manner the buyers wanted. Most of the payments to the buyers were out of escrow and were often paid through intermediaries, originating in Kovalev’s bank account. These payments were not disclosed to the lenders, and had the effect of substantially reducing the actual sales price below that was represented to the lenders. At least 31 properties were involved in Kovalev’s mortgage fraud scheme with substantial losses to the lenders.

To date, five co-defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced: Jannice Riddick, 34, Sacramento, California (two years and 11 months in prison); Florence Francisco, 65, Houston, Texas (one year in prison); Adil Qayyum, 34, Rosele, Illinois (three years of probation); Elsie Pamela Fuller, 41, Richmond, California (one year and nine months in prison); and Leona Yeargin, 49, San Pablo, California (18 months in prison). Charges are pending against co-defendant Arthur Menefee, 45, Stockton, California.

Two other defendants were charged separately for their involvement in the scheme. Valeriy Vasilevitsky, charged in U.S. v. Vasilevitsky, 2:12-cr-344 KJM, and Ruth Willis, charged in U.S. v. Willis, 2:13-cr-228 MCE, have also pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

Kovalev is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. on February 9, 2017. Kovalev faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million or twice the gross loss or gain.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd A. Pickles is prosecuting the case. The guilty plea was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert.

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.

Mayory Calvo, 34, Doral, Florida was indictedand charged with one count of mortgage fraud conspiracy, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of loan and credit application fraud. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison on each charge.  The indictment also notifies Calvo that the United States is seeking a money judgment (forfeiture) for the proceeds of the charged offenses.  The indictment was returned in open court on May 4, 2016 but was sealed.  The indictment was unsealed on May 13, 2016.  Calvo was arraigned and pled not guilty on June 17, 2016.  Trial is currently scheduled to commence the week of August 1, 2016 before Judge Steven D. Merryday.

According to the indictment and court proceedings, Calvo worked at Elite Mortgage Funding as a sales associate and assisted with the processing of mortgage loans associated with the purchase of properties in Pasco County, Pinellas County and Hillsborough County, Florida. She also lived, for a time, in Hillsborough County, Florida, and signed loan applications to obtain mortgage loans through Elite Mortgage for properties that she purchased.

The indictment alleges that Calvo participated in a mortgage fraud conspiracy, along with Jesus Sira aka Jay Sira (the incorporator and initial president and secretary of Elite Mortgage), Nestor Urdaneta-Gonzalez, and others.  The indictment further alleges that one or more conspirators agreed to purchase properties in exchange for a fee or commission; completed, executed and submitted the FNMA 1003 application containing false and fraudulent information concerning the applicant borrowers, purpose of the loan, source of down payment, employment information and/or monthly income; caused the property seller to execute a disbursement letter directing a material portion of the sales proceeds be disbursed to First Financial Consulting which would be submitted to title companies; executed HUD-1’s with false information or that failed to include important disbursement information; and distributed or shared funds acquired during the conspiracy often using bank accounts in the names of First Financial Consulting or Elite Mortgage.  According to the press release, the agreements to purchase properties were for amounts in excess of the original asking price.

The indictment reflects a specific transaction at 30401 Colthurst Street, Wesley Chapel, Florida, 33544 for a loan of $241,764 through National City Bank that was applied for by Mayory Calvo wherein it was falsely represented that she intended to use the property as her primary residence, she was a single woman (she was actually married to Jesus Sira), and a U.S. Citizen (she was a permanent resident), and that she was being paid $11,211 in monthly base employment income by Elite Mortgage.

The case was announced by United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General.  It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor and Assistant United States Attorney Jay Trezevant.  The case is pending in the Middle District of Florida as case number 8:16-cr-00195.

Daniel C. Bomar, 36, Ocean Springs, Mississippi, James B. Wright, 55, Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and Brett T. Immel, 35, Chicago,  Illinois, were indicted by a federal grand jury on April 14, 2016, and charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering in the Eastern District of Texas.

According to the indictment, from 2010 to 2012, the defendants are alleged to have conspired to defraud and obtain money from Prime Lending, a mortgage lending company in Dallas, and from Federal Savings Bank, a mortgage lending company in Overland Park, Kansas.  Both companies are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).   Continue Reading…

Gary Hughes, 36, San Diego, California, pled guilty to one count of mortgage fraud conspiracy involving bank fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment.

According to the plea agreement and court proceedings, in 2005, entities controlled by co-conspirators entered into a contract to purchase The Arbors, an apartment complex in Hillsborough County, Florida. The new owners of The Arbors then engaged in a plan to convert the complex from rental to condominium units. Continue Reading…

Gary Blankenship, 45, St. Petersburg, Florida, was sentenced to eight months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. He pleaded guilty on February 4, 2016.

According to his plea agreement, in 2005, entities controlled by co-conspirators entered into a contract to purchase The Arbors, an apartment complex in Hillsborough County, Florida. The new owners then engaged in a plan to convert the complex from rental apartments to condominium units.

Blankenship’s co-conspirator, Brendan Bolger, aided the developers in the sale of numerous condominium units through his company, Capital Management Guarantee, LLC. In order to induce buyers to purchase units, Bolger created an addendum to the purchase contract offering buyers various incentives, such as rental supplements, money to defray maintenance costs, and a design credit to upgrade the units’ amenities. When the buyers cancelled the design credit within 10 days of signing the addendum, Bolger paid them a kickback from his company’s bank account for the amount of the design credit. Blankenship’s role in the conspiracy as a realtor consisted of marketing The Arbors units by promising buyers undisclosed incentives. In this manner, Bolger, Blankenship and other co-conspirators failed to disclose material facts to buyers’ mortgage lenders about the financing of the condominium sales.

Blankenship was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James S. Moody. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor and Assistant United States Attorney Jay Hoffer.

Angel Garcia-Oliver, 49, Miami, Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud.  He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison.

According to the plea agreement, Garcia-Oliver was the principal of Garcia-Oliver & Mainieri, P.A., a law firm located in Coral Gables, Florida.  Tribute Residential, LLC, which was owned by a co-conspirator, owned and sold multiple communities.  Garcia-Oliver, or employees working at his direction, served as settlement agents and conducted dozens of real estate closings for condominium units owned by Tribute, including Cypress Pointe in Orlando, Florida and the Villas at Lakeside in Oviedo, Florida. Continue Reading…