Archives For Real Estate Agent

Alla Samchuk, 45, Roseville, California, was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison for a mortgage fraud scheme and obstruction of justice.

A federal jury returned a verdict in August 2016 finding her guilty of six counts of bank fraud, six counts of making a false statement to a financial institution, one count of money laundering, and one count of aggravated identity theft. Samchuk was indicted on February 16, 2012.

According to the evidence presented at trial, from 2006 through 2008, Samchuk, a licensed real estate salesperson, orchestrated a mortgage fraud scheme involving three properties in the Sacramento area using straw buyers. Two of the houses were purchased so that Samchuk herself could occupy them. She lacked the ability to qualify for a loan, so she instead recruited straw buyers to apply for the loans in their names. Samchuk caused the submission of loan applications containing false representations of income, employment, assets, and a false indication that the straw buyers would occupy the homes as their primary residence.

A second objective of the scheme was to obtain HELOC (home equity line of credit) funds. According to evidence at trial, on two of the properties, Samchuk diverted or attempted to divert HELOC funds to her own benefit. Samchuk caused the HELOC loans to fund by submitting false statements and documents to the lender regarding the qualifications of the straw buyers.

The scheme involved two properties in Roseville and one in El Dorado Hills. In 2007, Samchuk filed an application for a HELOC on one of the properties without the straw buyer’s knowledge or consent. To obtain the HELOC, she forged the signature of the straw buyer on a short form deed of trust that she caused to be notarized and recorded. The stated purpose of the HELOC was home improvement, but once the line of credit was funded, Samchuk quickly diverted all of the funds to her own use, spending the proceeds on a Lexus and the repayment of a substantial personal debt.

According to the Government’s Sentencing Memorandum (GSR), Samchuck selected individuals within her Ukrainian church community who did not speak English and who were not familiar with the American mortgage system to act as straw buyer and Samchuck acted as the interpreter at critical meetings.  She falsified tax returns, bank statements, mutual fund statements, and pay stubs to create the illusion that the straw buyers were wealthy enough to qualify for the home loans.  She also used her own phone number on the documents where she knew there was a chance the lender would follow up. She also used a bank account in her minor daughter’s name to launder the proceeds of the scheme.  The GSR also states that Samchuk verbally threatened one of the straw buyers and indicated that she would retaliate if he reporter her criminal conduct by reporting his role in the offense as a straw buyer.  It was that straw buyer’s report that resulted in the investigation leading to her conviction. The GSR also states that, while perpetrating the indicted fraud scheme, Samchuk also committed welfare fraud in Sacramento County, falsifying documents and providing false information under penalty of perjury in order to obtain food stamps and other benefits. She lied about her place of residence to obtain the benefits, falsifying a document to indicate she had an address in Sacramento County, when in reality she was living in a Mt. Tamalpais property in El Dorado Hills. At trial, her defense was that she was so wealthy that she did not need to resort to mortgage fraud to afford the homes purchased in the names of the straw buyers.

In arguing that an abuse of position of trust or special skill enhancement should not be applied, Samchuck’s objection to the GSR argued:

“These mortgage fraud schemes were not that complicated and the same is true here. The addition should only apply if she did something no one else could do because she was a real estate agent and we do not see facts to support that application. Using straw buyers or getting Helocs were something any one could simply execute because lenders were throwing themselves at buyers.  These things were common knowledge among people involved in a real estate transaction. It does not require the “special skill” of a real estate agent to know such conduct is impermissible. This straw buyer/heloc plan was so commonplace in the mortgage fraud cases and your report reads as if it was somehow unique or unheard of at the time. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Most mortgage fraud cases involved straw buyers/helocs or cash outside of escrow and it does not take a real estate agent to know it was all wrong. The PSR reads as if only a real estate agent could have created this scenario and that is simply untrue. There are literally hundreds of defendants in the ED/CA who were prosecuted for mortgage fraud in the past 5-6 years doing the exact same thing. It was not novel. It was not unique and it did not take a real estate agent to execute it. The lenders were fine with it and the practice was encouraged. Therefore, the +2 levels added for Abuse of Trust should not be included.”

The court’s response?:

“The trial record evinces Samchuk abused her position of trust when she acted as Petro Telenko’s real estate agent and misused and misappropriated his identity information to obtain a HELOC loan without his knowledge or authority.”

Two of the straw buyers were granted immunity for their testimony.

Samchuk received a higher sentence because the district court found that she obstructed justice when she threatened a witness not to report the crime to federal authorities. The court found that Samchuk’s statements to the witness constituted a threat that Samchuk purposefully calculated to dissuade the witness from alerting law enforcement about the fraud. Senior U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. sentenced Samchuk.

The sentence was announced by  U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert. This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Audrey B. Hemesath and Andre M. Espinosa prosecuted the case.

Lillian Marquez, 41, Stockton, California was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez to three years and one month in prison for conspiring to commit mortgage fraud.

Marquez pleaded guilty on June 14, 2016. On September 20, 2016, co-defendant Michael Keatts, 59, Stockton, California was also sentenced to three years and one month in prison for his role in the conspiracy. Both Marquez and Keatts were ordered to pay $193,134 in restitution to financial institutions harmed by their scheme.

According to court documents, from February of 2006, through at least August of 2012, Marquez and Keatts operated Colonial Home and Business Services in Stockton, California. Both defendants were licensed real estate agents who assisted clients in purchasing and selling homes. They both participated in supplying false information to mortgage lending institutions indicating that clients were employed by various businesses that the defendants set up and controlled. In fact, these clients were not employed by those businesses and their actual income from their true employment was far less than what was represented to lending institutions. To support these false claims, the defendants created and submitted fraudulent paystubs and tax documents falsely stating that their clients were so employed.

In addition, both defendants engaged in short sale fraud, in which they assisted clients facing default on their current loans to arrange for short sales of their properties. Unbeknownst to the lending institutions, the defendants arranged for the properties to be sold to straw buyers. The original owners would remain in the properties, and enjoy the benefits of the new loans that the lenders assumed were made to other individuals.

Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced the sentence.  The case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Assistant United States Attorney Philip Ferrari prosecuted the case.

Spenser Iatridis, 30, Scottsdale, Arizona, was charged by Information with Conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud on August 26, 2016 in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona.

According to the Information, Daphne Iatridis aka Daphne Trilling, aka Daphne Telles, 57, Scottsdale Arizona has been a real estate agent in Phoenix, Arizona for 18 years and Arthur Telles, 57, Scottsdale, Arizona, her husband, is also a real estate agent.  Brendyn J. Iatridis, aka Brendyn Trilling, 26, Scottsdale Arizona is the son of Daphne and also a real estate agent.  Spenser  is also a real estate agent and is the son of Daphne and brother of Brendyn.

Daphne, Telles and Brendyn were charged separately.

In 2008, Daphne was a designated listing agent for Fannie Mae REO properties.  Daphne knew that neither she nor her relatives could purchase the properties she marketed and sold for Fannie Mae and that Fannie Mae had certain restrictions that agents had to comply with in order to purchase an REO property they were listing.

Unbeknownst to Fannie Mae, the Iatridises purchased 28 properties for their own purposes.  They did this by purchasing 18 of the properties in the name of Spenser’s aunt.  Spenser knew that his aunt did not provide her permission to purchase the properties in her name and was not compensated in any manner for the purchases. Spenser knew that Brendyn falsely notarized his aunt’s name by either forging her signature or cutting and pasting a known signature onto documents.  On each of the properties purchased, defendants falsely listed his aunt as the trustee of a trust that they designated.  Once they had purchased the properties, they transferred them into the name of a deceased relative in order to conceal their ownership.  When Brendyn was notified that federal agents wanted to review his notary book, he misrepresented that it had been lost or stolen.

Defendants also committed a similar fraud with respect to at least nine homes that Brendyn purchased in the name of Brendyn Triling.  The defendants cut and pasted the signatures of known notaries on the documents.

Defendants committed the same fraud by purchasing homes in the name of Sing Lea Trust with Spenser’s former girlfriend as the trustee.  Defendant forged her signature and falsified notarized documents to complete the purchases.  They later transferred the properties to a trust under their control.

Defendants also submitted false invoices for repairs and rehabilitations of the properties to Fannie Mae.

Once they obtained the properties, Defendants installed renters for the purpose of obtaining rental income.  Because they were concealing their ownership of the properties, Spenser knew that they intentionally failed to report the rental income on their tax returns.

 

Timothy L. Ritchie, 44, Annapolis, Maryland, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison, followed by 12 months of home detention with electronic monitoring as part of three years of supervised release, for making false statements arising from a real estate closing and was ordered to pay restitution of $1,385,444.83.

In a related case, John L. Davis, real estate agent, 55, Chestertown, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud arising from his participation in the scheme, and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 31, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. Davis admitted that the loss arising from his participation in the scheme is between $400,000 and $1 million.

Ritchie owned and operated Richland Homes, Inc., and was in the business of building, purchasing and selling homes. Continue Reading…

Louis Marandola, 41, attorney, Providence, Rhode Island; Brian R. McCaffrey, 38, licensed loan originator, East Greenwich, Rhode Island; Raffaele M. Marziale, 41, former loan officer, Bristol, Rhode Island; Lauren Sienko, 33, loan processor, Rehoboth, Massachusetts; Gina M. Ronci Mohamed, 45, licensed real estate agent, Lincoln, Rhode Island; and Edwin Rodriguez, 35,  real estate investor, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, were charged in a 22-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Providence, Rhode Island with allegedly participating in a conspiracy to obtain money they were not entitled to from financial institutions and individuals through mortgage loans, residential property sales and fees. Continue Reading…

Edward Khalfin, 58, San Mateo, California was found guilty by a federal jury of 12 counts of mail fraud and 11 counts of making false statements on loan applications. Robin Dimiceli, 53, Brentwood, California was found guilty by a federal jury of six counts of mail fraud and six counts of making false statements on loan applications.  The convictions arise out of a builder bailout scheme that provided financial incentives to straw buyers to get them to purchase homes that developers were having difficulty selling

According to court documents, from August 2006 through May 2008, two brothers, Volodymyr Dubinsky, 56, formerly of Folsom, California, and Leonid Doubinski, 50, formerly of Copperopolis, California, built, developed, and sold real estate in Carmichael, California, Sacramento, California, and Copperopolis, California. As the real estate market declined, the brothers recruited family members, employees, and associates with good credit to act as straw buyers for residential properties. The Dubinsky brothers have not been apprehended and are fugitives thought to be residing in Ukraine. Continue Reading…

Hubert Rotteveel, 52, Dixon, California was sentenced  to three years and four months in prison for one count of mail fraud, .

In September 2014, Rotteveel was found guilty by a federal jury of one count of mail fraud relating to 13 properties in Dixon. According to evidence produced at trial, Rotteveel acted as a real estate salesperson for the 13 properties, with over $7 million in loans authorized for just two buyers in seven months. He inflated the values of the properties and worked with loan officers to provide false information to lenders about the income and liabilities of the buyers to induce the lenders to fund loans for the properties. Rotteveel surreptitiously made the down payments on the homes, instead of the buyers, and got that money (and usually more) back from the lenders at closing. For most of the transactions, when the sales closed, the escrow officer distributed funds to a bank account in the name of Windmill Properties, a company owned by Rotteveel, without disclosing these payments to the lenders. All 13 properties were used as rentals, with Rotteveel collecting the rents through Windmill Properties. He netted over $300,000 through the sales in just seven months, and the lenders lost more than $3 million when all 13 properties underwent foreclosure.

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner stated: “Hubert Rotteveel used his knowledge of the real estate market in Dixon to defraud lenders of over $7 million, resulting in losses of over $3 million after each of the homes went into default and a foreclosure sale was held. Today’s sentence is one step in the continuing effort to hold real estate professionals responsible for their role in the mortgage meltdown.”

This prosecution should serve as a warning to those who abuse their position of trust,” said Thomas McMahon, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation. “Mr. Rotteveel manipulated the MLS listings for properties, failed to disclose his true role in the transactions and made numerous misrepresentations to lenders.  Although this sentence cannot reverse the damage caused by Mr. Rotteveel, it highlights the ongoing commitment of IRS-CI to hold accountable those involved in these types of crimes.”

Rotteveel was sentenced by Senior United States District William B. Shubb.   The case was the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Jean M. Hobler and Justin L. Lee prosecuted the case.

 Timothy L. Ritchie, 44, Annapolis, Maryland, pleaded guilty to making false statements arising from a real estate closing.

Ritchie owned and operated Richland Homes, Inc., and was in the business of building, purchasing and selling homes.

According to his plea agreement, on July 7, 2005, Ritchie attended a residential closing for his purchase of three lots located at 24058 St. Michael’s Road, St. Michael’s, Maryland.  John L. Davis, 55, real estate agent, Chestertown, Maryland, conducted the closing, and listed Ritchie on the HUD statement as the buyer/ borrower.  The HUD statement falsely stated that Ritchie provided $1,153,937.23 in cash at the closing.  In fact, Ritchie did not provide any funds to Davis at the closing. As a result of the false statement, Ritchie fraudulently obtained approximately $2,445,102 from a mortgage lender by wire transfer to fund the settlement.

Ritchie faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett scheduled his sentencing for January 14, 2016, at 10:00 a.m.

John L. Davis previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud arising from his participation in the scheme, and awaits sentencing. Davis admitted that the loss arising from his participation in the scheme is between $400,000 and $1 million.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Rene Febles of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General; and Special Agent in Charge Fran Mace, of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General.  United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FHFA – OIG and FDIC – OIG for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Rosenstein thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin V. DiGregory and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen O. Gavin, who are prosecuting the case.

Moctezuma Tovar, 46, Sacramento, California and Sandra Hermosillo, 53, Woodland, California pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme.

According to court documents, Tovar was the founder and president of Delta Homes and Lending Inc., a Sacramento, California based real estate and mortgage lending company. Delta Homes opened one office in 2003 and eventually had five offices in Sacramento and Woodland, California. As the president of Delta Homes, Tovar managed the day-to-day operations of the company and prepared and submitted residential home loan applications on behalf of Delta Homes’ clients. Hermosillo was a loan officer at the Woodland office and was also responsible for submitting residential home loan applications on clients’ behalf. Continue Reading…

Gary Blankenship, 44, St. Petersburg, Massachusetts was indicted in the Middle District of Florida and charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, and bank fraud. The indictment alleges a zero down mortgage fraud for condominiums involving buyer kickbacks and incentives.

According to the indictment 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 then engaged in a plan to convert the complex from rental apartment units to condominium units.

Blankenship’s co-conspirator, Brenden 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 The Arbors 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 real estate agent consisted of marketing The Arbors units by promising buyers that they would not be required to provide any money at closing, actually providing cash for borrowers to close on the units, facilitating the payment of kickbacks to his clients via Capital Management Guarantee, and facilitating the submission of false loan applications to FDIC-insured financial institutions, or their subsidiaries. In this manner, Bolger, Blankenship, and other co-conspirators failed to disclose material facts to the buyers’ mortgage lenders about the financing of the condominium sales.

He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment for each charge.

Bolger previously pleaded guilty his role in the conspiracy. His sentencing is scheduled for September 18, 2015. 

The case was 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 Hoffer.