David Cevallos, real estate agent, 46, Miami, Florida, and Osbel Sanchez, real estate agent, 45, Tampa, Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution. Each faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. Sanchez’s sentencing hearing has been set for April 24, 2017, and Cevallos’s sentencing hearing has been set for May 8, 2017.
According to the plea agreements, between summer 2008 and January 2009, Cevallos and Sanchez conspired with each other and others to fraudulently induce lenders into making mortgage loans based upon false information. This conspiracy involved a series of real estate transactions where the parties, including Cevallos and Sanchez, would make or cover up false statements made to the lenders regarding the source of down payments for the real estate transactions, and the manner in which the mortgage funds would be distributed. Most of these transactions involved Tribute Residential, a real estate development company operated by co-conspirator Rebecca Gheiler, as the seller.
Specifically, the parties represented to the lenders that down payments for these properties were being provided by the individuals purchasing the properties, when in fact they were provided by Cevallos or Sanchez. After the transactions had closed and the mortgage funds were released to Tribute Residential, Gheiler would arrange for the post-closing payments of the mortgage proceeds to be provided to Cevallos’s real estate firm, Metro Brokers. These post-closing payments reimbursed Cevallos for the money that he or Sanchez had provided to cover the buyer’s down payments, and to provide post-closing commissions from funds that were supposed to go to the seller. As a result, the lenders were unknowingly funding the down payment for the transactions (as well as undisclosed commissions) from the mortgage proceeds themselves, and were being misled as to the true value of the properties for which they were providing loans.
United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III made the announcement.
The case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vincent S. Chiu and Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.