Title Attorney and Brokers Sent to Prison for Straw Buyer Scam

admin —  April 23, 2013 — Leave a comment

Rafael Ubieta, 50, and Angel Barroso, 46, both of Miami, Florida, following their January 2013 convictions of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud, as well as the sentencing of Joel Zaldivar, 33, Studio City, California, and Kyle Baker, 33, Beverly, Massachusetts, following their January 2013 guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Ubieta, a Title Attorney, was sentenced to 240 months (20 years) of imprisonment. Barroso was sentenced to 210 months of imprisonment. Zaldivar and Baker, who were both Mortgage Brokers, were each sentenced to 48 months of imprisonment. Two other co-defendants, Martha Otero and Fernando Tolon, were previously sentenced to 78 months of imprisonment and 37 months of imprisonment, respectively, following their December 2012 guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. All sentences were imposed by United States District Judge K. Michael Moore.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Ubieta, a member of the Florida Bar, served as the Title Attorney for multiple fraudulent real estate transactions involving the use of straw buyers on whose behalf loan applications and supporting documents containing false information were submitted to various mortgage lenders across the United States by Zaldivar and Baker, who, at the time, were Mortgage Brokers and the Presidents of First Class Mortgage and Lending Corp.  Straw buyers were recruited and paid by Barroso, Otero and Tolon. After the lenders approved the loans based on the false information provided, defendant Ubieta, then President of Bayside Title Services, Inc., prepared false HUD-1 Settlement Statements that contained false information.

For example, the forms falsely represented to the lenders that the straw buyers were bringing their own money to closing. None of the straw buyers brought their own money to closing. Instead, on multiple occasions Ubieta released lenders’ proceeds to other members of the conspiracy, including Barroso and Otero, prior to receiving the buyers’ required cash-to-close payments. Members of the conspiracy, including Barroso and Otero, then used those proceeds to make the cash-to-close payments on behalf of the straw buyers. Ubieta also signed multiple Title Commitments falsely stating who the owner of record was on various properties.

The false Title Commitments allowed Ubieta to conduct real estate closings in which an initial straw buyer resold properties to a second straw buyer before the initial straw buyer appeared as the owner of the property in the public records.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and J.D. Patterson, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), announced the sentencing.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the MDPD.


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