Alicia Martineau, 24, West Haven, Connecticut, pleaded guilty before United States Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez in Hartford, Connecticut, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud stemming from her participation in a mortgage fraud conspiracy.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Martineau and others engaged in a scheme to obtain residential real estate loans, including loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”), through the use of sham sales contracts, false loan applications and fraudulent property appraisals.
As part of the scheme, Martineau acted as a straw buyer who allowed her name and identifying information to be used to obtain mortgage loans to purchase properties at fraudulently inflated prices. Specifically, on October 1, 2009, Martineau purchased a residence at 211 Lloyd Street, New Haven, Connecticut, after working with others to obtain an FHA-insured loan to buy the house at the fraudulently inflated price of $160,000. The loan package for this transaction included false information about Martineau‘s employment, assets and liabilities, and Martineau‘s intention to occupy the property as her principal residence. The loan application also was supported by false documentation, including earning statements and fraudulent bank records.
After the closing, Martineau was given $10,000 in cash in a black plastic bag for serving as a straw buyer.
The house was in extremely poor condition both before and after Martineau purchased it, and she had no intention of ever living at the property. In fact, she never received keys to the residence. Martineau did not make any mortgage payments and the property later went into foreclosure.
The loss suffered by the lender on 211 Lloyd Street was more than $120,000.
Martineau is scheduled to be sentenced by Chief United States District Judge Alvin W. Thompson on April 25, 2011, at which time Martineau faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.
The investigation is ongoing.
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced the guilty plea.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Eric J. Glover and Susan Wines.
In July 2009, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced the formation of the Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force to investigate and prosecute mortgage fraud cases and related financial crimes occurring in Connecticut. In addition to investigating past mortgage fraud schemes, the Task Force will focus on emerging crime trends that are associated with the growing tide of foreclosures, including foreclosure rescue schemes, and short sale schemes. Citizens are encouraged to report any suspected mortgage fraud activity by calling 203-333-3512 and requesting the Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force includes representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General, and State of Connecticut Department of Banking.