Zalathiel Aguila, 42, Vallejo, California, and Omar Anabo, 53, Vallejo, California pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make false statements on loan applications.
According to court documents, between October 2004 and May 2007, Aguila and Anabo operated Vallejo‑based Capital Access LLC, an entity targeting homeowners facing foreclosure. The defendants’ “Keep Your Home” program purported to be a temporary rescue plan whereby “qualified investors” took over the mortgages while the homeowners paid rent and worked on rebuilding their credit. The defendants convinced homeowners to sign over title to their homes, which were then sold to straw buyers. The straw buyers obtained loans under fraudulent pretenses by claiming on loan applications that, for example, they intended to occupy the homes as primary residences and that no part of the down payment for the purchase was borrowed. In fact, Capital Access provided the down payment amounts, and the straw buyers never intended to live in the properties. The defendants stripped the equity from the homes and used it to pay the operating expenses of Capital Access, additional fraudulent home purchases, monthly housing payments on the homes for a limited period of time, and personal expenses.
Many of the distressed homeowners were never told that they were permanently signing over title to their homes to Capital Access. Victim homeowners suffered substantial financial hardship; they lost their homes and were forced to move.
In all, the scheme caused the fraudulent sale of at least $27 million in home properties, involving at least 69 properties across California, and at least $23.99 million in fraudulently obtained property loans. Lenders lost at least $10.47 million as a result.
Aguila and Anabo are scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. on April 1, 2016. Both defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner. The case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew M. Yelovich is prosecuting the case.