Archives For Wire Fraud

Frank Giacobbe, 43, East Amherst, New York; Patrick Ogiony, 34, Buffalo, New York; Kevin Morgan, 42, Pittsford, New York; and Todd Morgan, 29, Rochester, New York, have been charged in a  62-count indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and substantive wire fraud and bank fraud charges. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.

According to the indictment, between March 2011 and June 2017, the defendants conspired to defraud financial institutions, such as Arbor Commercial Mortgage, LLC and Berkadia Commericial Mortgage, LLC, and government sponsored enterprises, including Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), and the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae). The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to engage in a variety of conduct to induce mortgage lenders to issue loans for residential apartment complexes (1) for greater amounts than they would have issued had they known the truth; and (2) that the lenders would not have issued at the time of issuance had they known the truth.

The defendants are accused of:

  • Conspiring to provide lending institutions with false rent rolls suggesting that properties had more occupied units, at higher rental rates, and generated more income than they, in fact, did;
  •  Conspiring to provide false information about other income received at the complexes. On one occasion, when one defendant asked another where storage space income figures came from, another defendant replied, “Magic;”
  • Conspiring to provide lenders with fraudulently altered leases; and
  • Conspiring to prevent inspectors touring the properties from discovering vacant units by, among other things, turning on radios inside vacant units, placing mats and shoes outside apartment doors, and, on at least one occasion, hiring someone to stage an apartment as lived in and pretend to be a tenant of an inspected unit.

The indictment alleges fraud at seven different properties, not all of which involved all charged defendants, but which resulted in total loans issued of $167,591,000. The properties are Morgan Ellicott Apartments and Amherst Garden, both in Buffalo, New York; Rugby Square in Syracuse, New York; Avon Commons, in Avon, New York; Rochester Village, Southpointe, and Eden Square, all in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area.

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. made the announcement today.

The defendants are charged with fraudulently obtaining over $167.5 million worth of loans relating to seven residential apartment complexes located here in New York and in Pennsylvania,” noted U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “Most of those loans were in turn sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, entities which were created by Congress to perform and an important role in our country’s housing finance system. As a result of the fraudulent conduct alleged in this indictment, defendants’ conduct not only unjustly enriched them but threatened to undercut the very foundations upon which our mortgage banking and investment systems are based.”

We must protect the tens of thousands of investors who own mortgage backed securities,” said Gary Loeffert, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Buffalo Division. “This investigation is focused on stopping people from undermining the residential and commercial financing industry. Fraud for profit aims to misuse the mortgage lending process to steal cash.”

Some of the defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on May 23, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. before U.S Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder.

The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Mark P. Higgins.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Arlando Jacobs, 52, The Woodlands, Texas, has pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to information presented in court, from October 2011 through April 2017, Jacobs conspired with others to create and submit fraudulent mortgage lien documents to title companies and financial institutions in order to receive transfers of funds they were not entitled to receive. Jacobs was indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2017.  Co-defendant, Clarence Roland, is scheduled for trial in September 2018.

Under federal statutes, Jacobs faces up to 30 years in federal prison at sentencing.  The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.  A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown made the announcement.

Arlando Jacobs pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency-Office of  Inspector General, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Housing & Urban Development-Office of Inspector General.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Eason.

Herzel Meiri, 64, and Amir Meiri, 35, pled guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, in connection with their scheme to fraudulently induce distressed homeowners to sell their homes for little or no consideration to a company they owned and controlled.

According to allegations in the contained documents filed in federal court, including the Indictment and Complaint:

From 2013 to 2015, Herzel Meiri and Amir Meiri defrauded distressed homeowners throughout the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, New York.  The Meiris and others falsely represented to these homeowners – some of whom were elderly or in poor health – that they could assist them with a loan modification or similar relief from foreclosure that could result in the homeowners saving their homes.  But rather than actually assisting these homeowners, the defendants deceived them into selling their homes for less than the homes’ actual values to Launch Development LLC (“Launch Development”), a for-profit company owned and controlled by the Meiris.

Specifically, the Meiris’ direction fraudulently induced the homeowners to engage in a type of short sale in which the homeowner would sell the property to Launch Development.  The Meiris and their conspirators falsely assured the homeowners that their homes would be returned to them after a short period, and that they could remain in their homes throughout the entire process.  At the closing that followed, homeowners were encouraged to sign fraudulent documents, that unbeknownst to the homeowners transferred the homes Launch Development.  Homeowners often were then forced to vacate their homes, and in many cases had no other place to live. Launch Development resold many of the homes, which were purchased at fraudulently deflated prices, for an enormous profit.

Herzel Meiri, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.  He also consented to forfeit $6,469,291.41, as well as 31 real properties, four bank accounts, and one escrow account, as proceeds traceable to the offense.

Amir Meiri, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and maximum fine of $1,000,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.  He also consented to forfeit the same 31 real properties, four bank accounts, and one escrow account, as proceeds traceable to the offense.

The defendants will be sentenced by before U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos on July 27, 2018.

Robert S. Khuzami, the Attorney for the United States praised the outstanding work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and the New York State Department of Financial Services for their investigative efforts and ongoing support and assistance with the case.

The prosecution of this case is being overseen by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Thomas and Sheb Swett are in charge of the case.

Barclays Capital, Inc. and several of its affiliates (together, Barclays) have reached an agreement with the United States to settle a civil action filed in December 2016 in which the United States sought civil penalties for alleged conduct related to Barclays’ underwriting and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) between 2005 and 2007.

Following a three-year investigation, the complaint in the action, United States v. Barclays Capital, Inc., alleged that Barclays caused billions of dollars in losses to investors by engaging in a fraudulent scheme to sell 36 Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (“RMBS”) deals, and that it misled investors about the quality of the mortgage loans backing those deals.  It alleged violations of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA), based on mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, and other misconduct.

The scheme alleged in the complaint involved 36 RMBS deals in which over $31 billion worth of subprime and Alt-A mortgage loans were securitized, more than half of which loans defaulted.  The complaint alleged that in publicly filed offering documents and in direct communications with investors and rating agencies, Barclays systematically and intentionally misrepresented key characteristics of the loans it included in these RMBS deals.  In general, the borrowers whose loans backed these deals were significantly less creditworthy than Barclays represented, and these loans defaulted at exceptionally high rates early in the life of the deals.  In addition, as alleged in the complaint, the mortgaged properties were systematically worth less than what Barclays represented to investors.  These are allegations only, which the Defendants dispute, and there has been no trial or adjudication or judicial finding of any issue of fact or law.

Barclays will pay the United States two billion dollars ($2,000,000,000) in civil penalties in exchange for dismissal of the Amended Complaint.

Agreement has also been reached with the two former Barclays executives who were named as defendants in the suit:  Paul K. Menefee, Austin, Texas, who served as Barclays’ head banker on its subprime RMBS securitizations, and John T. Carroll, Port Washington, New York, who served as Barclays’ head trader for subprime loan acquisitions.  In exchange for dismissal of the claims against them, Menefee and Carroll agree to pay the United States the combined sum of two million dollars ($2,000,000) in civil penalties.

The settlement was announced by Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Laura S. Wertheimer, Inspector General, of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of the Inspector General (FHFA-OIG).

This settlement reflects the ongoing commitment of the Department of Justice, and this Office, to hold banks and other entities and individuals accountable for their fraudulent conduct,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “The substantial penalty Barclays and its executives have agreed to pay is an important step in recognizing the harm that was caused to the national economy and to investors in RMBS.”

The actions of Barclays and the two individual defendants resulted in enormous losses to the investors who purchased the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities backed by defective loans,” stated FHFA-OIG Inspector General Wertheimer.  “Today’s settlement holds accountable those who waste, steal or abuse funds in connection with FHFA or any of the entities it regulates.  We are proud to have partnered with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York on this matter.”

The government’s case has been handled by this Office’s Civil Division.  Senior Counsel F. Franklin Amanat, and Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew R. Belz, Charles S. Kleinberg, Evan P. Lestelle, Matthew J. Modafferi, Josephine M. Vella and Alex S. Weinberg have been in charge of the litigation.  Mr. Donoghue thanks the FHFA-OIG for its assistance in conducting the investigation in this matter.

Oscar Cantalicio Ortiz, 54, Kingwood, Texas has received a second federal sentence for failing to appear in court. Today, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt handed Ortiz another 12 months and one day to be served consecutively to the already-imposed 262 months for his conviction of bank fraud.

Ortiz was originally convicted for a mortgage fraud scheme in which he admitted he conspired to commit bank, mail and wire fraud. He was permitted to remain on bond pending his sentencing in that case, but was ordered to wear a GPS monitoring device secured around his leg as a condition of his release.

On April 21, 2017, he cut off the device and left it on the side of the road in southwest Houston, Texas. His vehicle was later found abandoned in a parking lot in the same area of town.

On April 24, 2017, Ortiz was set to appear before U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt for sentencing in the mortgage fraud scheme. He failed show for that hearing.

He was residing in Mexico and turned himself in to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, Mexico on August 23, 2017. Ortiz told the FBI at the Embassy that he was a fugitive from the United States and had decided to flee because he wanted more time to work on a project. He was flown back to Houston the following day.

Ortiz pleaded guilty December 4, 2017.

Upon his arrival, agents noted that Ortiz had changed his appearance by growing facial hair and dying it and his hair red. Ortiz admitted he had purchased a second car to replace the one he abandoned and drove across the border into Mexico where he stayed until his arrest.

While a fugitive, Judge Hoyt imposed the nearly 22-year sentence in absentia which will be served consecutively to the term imposed today. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Oscar+Cantalicio+Ortiz

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

The FBI conducted the investigation of both cases. Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Annis is prosecuting the cases.

Geoffrey S. Walsh, a former vice president of the Bank of Oswego, Lake Oswego, Oregon, was sentenced today to 30 months in federal prison followed by a three-year term of supervised release. Walsh had previously pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to make false entries in bank records, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and wire fraud on July 22, 2015.

Facts Related to Conspiracy to Make False Entries in Bank Records Conviction

From January 2009 to May 2012, Walsh served as the Bank of Oswego’s Vice President and Director of Mortgage Services and later as its Vice President of Business Development and Lending Services. As an institution insured and regulated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the bank was required to submit quarterly call reports detailing the financial condition of the bank.

From 2009 through 2010, the bank was in second position on a mortgage secured by real property located on A Avenue, Lake Oswego, Oregon. The borrower’s failure to make timely payments and her deteriorating financial condition were discussed weekly by Walsh and other members of the bank’s Internal Loan Committee (ILC), including the CEO, Dan Heine and CFO, Diana Yates. In October 2010, the first mortgagee declared the borrower in default and foreclosed on the property. In order to avoid a loss of nearly $100,000 and avoid reporting the loss to the FDIC and the board of directors, Walsh, Heine and Yates formulated a plan to acquire and sell the property to recover the remaining balance on the loan. Walsh was put in charge of obtaining the property for the bank.

Walsh initially attempted to purchase the property directly from Fannie Mae, but was told it could only be sold to an individual who planned to occupy the property, and could not be sold to an institution until the property had been on the market for 15 days. On behalf of the bank, Walsh arranged for another bank employee to serve as a straw buyer, purchasing the property in the employee’s name. To accomplish this, Walsh, Heine and Yates agreed to and submitted false information to Fannie Mae about the true buyer, the source of the funds to purchase the property and the buyer’s intent to remain in the home as an occupant. Records of the sale were purposefully not maintained by Walsh, Heine and Yates in order to conceal the transaction from the bank’s board of directors and the FDIC.

On November 28, 2017, a federal jury found Heine and Yates guilty of a conspiracy to deceive the bank’s board of directors, shareholders and regulators as well as 12 counts of making false entries in the bank’s records to the FDIC and the board of directors. The verdict was based, in part, on the A Avenue transaction. Heine and Yates will be sentenced on March 5, 2018. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Bank+of+Oswego

Facts Related to Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud Conviction

According to court documents, Walsh worked with his brother Gregory Walsh, a former Vice President at Morgan Stanley, to persuade an Arizona woman into loaning him more than $764,000 for a real estate investment scheme. The woman, a recent widow and client of Greg Walsh’s, was told the money would be used to purchase two condominiums in the Palm Springs, California area that would be titled in her name and sold within one year.

Contrary to the promises made, Walsh titled each of the properties in the name of his business and never provided any loan or title documentation to his investor. Between May and July 2012, he sold the properties without the knowledge or permission of his investor and used the proceeds to satisfy personal financial obligations.

In January 2013, Walsh contacted his brother to gauge the same investor’s interest in loaning him an additional $2 million for a real estate development project in Oregon. Greg Walsh transferred the money from the investor’s Morgan Stanley account to his brother without the investor’s knowledge or approval. On March 5, 2013, the majority of these funds – over $1.7 million – were used to pay the balance of a line of credit at the bank. Walsh spent the remainder of the funds.

Greg Walsh has also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for these same transactions. His will be sentenced on February 6, 2018.

Facts Related to Wire Fraud Conviction

In May 2012, Walsh secured a commercial loan for $500,000 from an Oregon resident, using the first two Palm Springs, California properties as collateral. In securing the loan, he failed to disclose that the properties were already pledged as security for loans he had obtained from the Arizona investor and that he was already in negotiations to sell one of the properties. Soon after receiving the loan, Walsh sold both properties and used the proceeds for his own benefit.

Between November 2012 and July 2013, the Oregon resident was repeatedly in contact with Walsh in an attempt to obtain repayment. Walsh assured his lender that he would repay the loan in full with interest. In May 2013, the lender met with the FBI to discuss Walsh’s default on the loan. Walsh made a partial repayment of $300,000 after the lender met with the FBI.

Geoff Walsh intentionally and repeatedly perpetrated large financial crimes that cheated individual investors and deceived bank regulators and the Bank of Oswego’s Board of Directors,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “He achieved this largely while retaining a position of trust as a bank executive. The imposition of this sentence demonstrates that stealing from investors and lying to regulators about a bank’s financial condition are grave matters and subject to felony charges and a prison sentence. Today’s sentencing is many years’ in the making and a testament to the hard work and persistence of federal law enforcement.”

Today’s sentencing helps to shed light on the sophisticated world of complex financial fraud at a bank where certain executives were more committed to their personal interests than those of their customers,” said Steve Goldman, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. “Geoff Walsh’s deal-making during these long-running schemes damaged the bank itself and hurt the friends and clients who had entrusted him with their money.”

This case was investigated by the FBI and the FDIC Office of Inspector General (OIG-FDIC) and prosecuted by Claire M. Fay, Michelle Holman Kerin, and Quinn P. Harrington, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

John Ballard, 55, Atwater, California, Judy (Calderon) Ballard, 54, Atwater, California, Sherry Herbert, 54, Fresno, California and Andrea Todd, 53, Fresno, California were charged on October 12, 2017 with conspiracy, wire fraud and bank fraud in connection with a fraudulent short-sale scheme.

According to the court documents, Ballard and Calderon were both licensed real estate salespersons and they owned a home in Atwater, California which was their primary residence. When the couple defaulted on a loan on the property, they asked permission to short-sell the property to Herbert and Todd, but had no intention of actually transferring the property to them. They used a series of false and fraudulent representations to obtain approval from banks to conduct this transaction and caused these financial institutions to approve the charge-off of funds and the financing for the short-sale.

Herbert and Todd were arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Erica P. Grosjean. Ballard and Calderon’s arraignments are currently set for November 29, 2017, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stanley A. Boone.

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Merced County District Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael G. Tierney and Christopher D. Baker are prosecuting the case.

If any of the four defendants are convicted, they face a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

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…