Cabral Simpson, 46, Orange, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to Count One of an indictment charging him with conspiring to commit wire fraud.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:

Simpson, a real estate investor, and his conspirators engaged in mortgage fraud by creating fake bank statements and fake employee verification records for buyers of properties and transferring money into the buyers’ bank accounts for payment of the deposit for a property. Simpson and his conspirators submitted fraudulent mortgage loan applications, supporting documents, and closing documents on behalf of the buyers. They also induced lenders to issue more than $1 million in loans, resulting in defaults and exposing the lenders and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to more than $1 million in losses.

The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud to which Simpson pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000, twice the gross profits to Simpson or twice the gross loss suffered by the victims. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 10, 2024,

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina D. Scaringi in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Kogan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Cybercrime Unit in Newark.

UBS AG and several of its U.S.-based affiliates (together, UBS) have agreed to pay $1.435 billion in penalties to settle a civil action filed in November 2018 alleging misconduct related to UBS’ underwriting and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) issued in 2006 and 2007.

Following an extensive investigation, the United States filed a complaint alleging that UBS defrauded investors in connection with the sale of 40 RMBS issued in 2006 and 2007. The complaint alleged that UBS knowingly made false and misleading statements to buyers of these securities relating to the characteristics of the mortgage loans underlying the RMBS in violation of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA). The FIRREA claims were based on alleged violations of the mail, wire, and bank fraud statutes.

The government’s complaint alleged that contrary to UBS’ representations in publicly filed offering documents, UBS knew that significant numbers of the loans backing the RMBS did not comply with loan underwriting guidelines that were designed to assess borrowers’ ability to repay. The complaint further asserted that UBS knew that the property values associated with a significant number of the securitized loans were unsupported, and that significant numbers of the loans had not been originated in accordance with consumer protection laws. UBS was allegedly aware of these significant problems because it had conducted extensive due diligence on the underlying loans prior to the RMBS being issued to determine whether the loans were consistent with representations that would be made to investors. Ultimately, the 40 RMBS sustained substantial losses.

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, people all across the country experienced financial ruin and emotional devastation, and many are still recovering nearly 15 years later,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “As this settlement demonstrates, the department and our partner agencies remain committed to holding accountable those who break the law and undermine the well-being of American families.

The results achieved by the RMBS Working Group are a testament to the exceptional dedication and hard work by department attorneys over many years,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We are grateful for the outstanding support provided by our partners in federal agencies and states that similarly sought to hold responsible those entities that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.”

With this resolution, UBS will pay for its conduct related to its underwriting and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities. The substantial civil penalty in this case serves as a warning to other players in the financial markets who seek to unlawfully profit through fraud that we will hold them accountable no matter how long it takes,” stated U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York. “The over $36 billion collected for conduct that fueled the 2008 financial crisis reflects the Department of Justice’s deep commitment to protecting financial markets, investors and the public against fraudulent conduct.

This settlement represents accountability from those who thought they were above the law,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan for the Northern District of Georgia. “UBS’ conduct at issue in this case played a significant role in causing a financial crisis that harmed millions of Americans. We will continue to seek accountability when financial institutions – large or small – misrepresent vital information to investors and undermine trust in our public markets.

This settlement resolves the last case brought by a Justice Department working group dedicated to investigating conduct of banks and other entities for their roles in creating and issuing RMBS leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.

“The Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG), together with our RMBS Working Group partners, investigated and held accountable those who sought to victimize Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and investors by selling fraudulent mortgage-backed securities,” said FHFA Inspector General Brian Tomney. “We appreciate our longstanding partnership with the Department of Justice and its vigorous pursuit of justice in this case.”

With the UBS settlement announced today, the Justice Department has collected more than $36 billion in civil penalties from entities for their alleged conduct in connection with mortgages securitized in failed RMBS leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. These resolutions include settlements with the following banks, mortgage originators, and rating agencies: Ally FinancialAurora Loan ServicesBank of AmericaBarclaysCitigroupCredit SuisseDeutsche BankGeneral ElectricGoldman SachsHSBCJPMorgan; Moody’sMorgan StanleyNomuraRoyal Bank of ScotlandS&PSociété Générale; and Wells Fargo.

Collectively, these matters were handled by 11 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Justice Department’s Civil Division, in conjunction with the RMBS Working Group. The RMBS Working Group was a federal and state law enforcement effort focused on investigating fraud and abuse in the RMBS market that led to the financial crisis. Formed in 2012, the RMBS Working Group brought together more than 200 attorneys, investigators, analysts, and staff from dozens of state and federal agencies, including the FHFA-OIG, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the FBI, to investigate financial fraud in RMBS.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bonni J. Perlin, Michael J. Castiglione, Richard K. Hayes, Edward K. Newman and Melanie Speight for the Eastern District of New York, Austin M. Hall and Andres H. Sandoval, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Armen Adzhemyan for the Northern District of Georgia handled the case.

The claims resolved in the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.


Brian Roy Lozito, 53, Orange Park, Florida, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to court documents, Lozito owned and managed American Investigative Services (AIS). AIS purported to offer consumers mortgage auditing services in exchange for a fee. Lozito and his conspirators solicited customers nationwide through mailings and telephone calls. In these solicitations, Lozito and AIS employees, under the direction of Lozito, made false and fraudulent representations to consumers, including that AIS would perform “forensic audits” of mortgage documents to uncover evidence of deficiencies in the mortgage documents. Lozito claimed AIS would obtain quitclaim deeds and other remedies, so the mortgage holders would be relieved of their mortgage debt and own their properties free and clear. If AIS could not help the consumer, Lozito promised to refund their money. In reality, AIS did not perform the services paid for by consumers and did not refund money to consumers. Funds collected from consumers went to bank accounts controlled by Lozito. Lozito used the funds to keep AIS operating and for personal expenses.

Lozito faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and payment of restitution to the victims he defrauded. Lozito was arraigned on the indictment on January 11, 2021, and initially released on bond. The court revoked his bond on November 18, 2022, and subsequently ordered him detained. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg made the announcement.

This case was investigated by United States Secret Service – Jacksonville Field Office and the State of Florida Office of Attorney General – Consumer Protection Division, with valuable assistance from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. It is being  prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney the Kevin C. Frein. The asset forfeiture is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Mai Tran.


Lee Ann Benninghoff, 45, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court to one (1) day of imprisonment and three (3) years of supervised release on her conviction of bank fraud and conspiracy.

According to information presented to the court, Benninghoff owned and operated Complete Escrow and Bella Casa Realty. From February 2014 through March 2017, Benninghoff used her position and connections in real estate financing, and conspired with others in the industry, to submit fraudulent gift letters in support of mortgage loan applications. The gift letters misrepresented the source of the funds and their purported purpose.

United States Attorney Eric G. Olshan made the announcement today.

Assistant United States Attorney Robert S. Cessar prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

United States Attorney Olshan commended the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Secret Service for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Benninghoff.

Osbado Hernandez, 54,  Avenel, New Jersey, a former Hudson County Sheriff’s Officer admitted conspiring to make false statements to a bank in connection with an application to discharge a mortgage through a fraudulent short sale.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From September 2015 to Dec. 30, 2015, in order to induce a bank to discharge the mortgage he owed on his house in Keansburg, New Jersey, Hernandez agreed with others to make false statements in connection with a fraudulent short sale of the property, including that he did not have any money to apply toward his mortgage delinquency and that he did not intend to stay in the house for more than 90 days following the short sale. As a result of the fraudulent short sale, the bank discharged over $98,000 of debt against Hernandez.

The false statements conspiracy charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 4, 2023.

Hernandez pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp in Trenton federal court on May 22, 2023, to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to make false statements in connection with the release of a loan.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Thomas Mahoney, and special agents with IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Tammy Tomlins, with the investigation leading to the guilty plea.

U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger made the announcement.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elaine K. Lou, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Opioid Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Unit.


Ella Martin, 69, Jayess, Mississippi, pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal houses from the United States Department of Agriculture.

According to court documents, conspired with others to identify and steal USDA-mortgaged properties. The targeted properties were mortgaged through the Brookhaven office of USDA Rural Development, an agency which helps rural residents buy or rent safe, affordable housing, especially low and very-low income individuals. As an employee of that office, Martin had access to a list of abandoned, foreclosed, nearly-foreclosed, or similarly distressed USDA-mortgaged properties and would create fraudulent warranty deeds designed to convey ownership of those properties to co-conspirators and others. The fraudulent deeds included forged signatures from former homeowners, including at least one deceased individual. The fraudulent deeds were then filed in Chancery Courts around Mississippi with the intent to deprive the actual owners of the use and benefit of the properties and to deprive the United States Government of the actual value of the properties.

Martin pleaded guilty to a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, which criminalizes conspiracies against the laws of the United States. She is scheduled to be sentenced on September 19, 2023 and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A federal district judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Co-defendants Barry Martin and Fiesta Kagler entered guilty pleas last year and are scheduled to be sentenced on June 15, 2023.

The USDA OIG and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case.

U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca and Special Agent in Charge Dax Roberson of United States Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General made the announcement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly T. Purdie is prosecuting the case.


Johnny Fior, 48, Cape Coral, Florida has been sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for wire fraud and illegal monetary transactions.

According to court documents, Fior committed the fraud by engaging in two different fraud schemes. With the first scheme, Fior convinced two individuals, by false and fraudulent pretenses, to serve as private investors/lenders for short-term balloon loans that were secured by mortgages on real properties in Lee County, Florida. To accomplish the scheme and give the investors the impression that their funded loans were secured by real property, Fior fraudulently filed fictitious mortgage deeds, promissory notes, and mortgage satisfactions. Additionally, Fior provided the investors interest-only payments to further delay repayment of the loans and requested loan repayment extensions to further prolong the scheme. Fior diverted the investors’ funds for his own personal use and none of the funds were used for their intended purpose.

In the second scheme, Fior, in his role as a real estate closing agent, diverted funds intended to be used to pay off property sellers’ existing mortgages to himself during real estate closings. In furtherance of the scheme, Fior created and caused the creation of real estate settlement statements that falsely represented a seller’s mortgage was repaid during the real estate closing process. Additionally, Fior created fake and fictitious bank statements, lender correspondence, wire transfer records, cashier’s checks, deposit records, and shipment records that fraudulently represented a seller’s mortgage had been paid or that the mortgage pay-off funds were submitted. As a result of the second scheme, two separate title insurance companies suffered a total loss of approximately $977,330.23.  

As part of his sentence, the court also entered an order of forfeiture in the amount of $1,404,169.74, which were the proceeds of the wire fraud and illegal monetary transaction offenses. Fior had pleaded guilty on January 18, 2023.

 This case was investigated by the FBI. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Trent Reichling.

             David Maresca, 48, Manassas, Virginia, Scott Marinelli, 51,  Mountainside, New Jersey, Sam Babbs, III, 41, Orlando, Florida, and Terrylle Blackstone, 35, Woodbridge, Virginia, have been charged with conspiring to defraud thousands of distressed homeowners who thought they were hiring a legal firm to help them avoid foreclosure. The defendants, some of whom were licensed to practice law in Washington, D.C., New Jersey, and Florida, allegedly reaped millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains.

According to the indictment, the scheme involved marketing Synergy Law and Themis Law through telephone, television, and Internet advertising which told homeowners that attorneys could help them avoid foreclosure. The defendants, through the law firms, operated  call centers, where workers used scripts during calls with homeowners falsely promising that an attorney would review the homeowner’s case file; that this attorney knew their lender’s “internal guidelines,” for a “mortgage resolution”; and that an assigned “legal team” would contact the homeowner’s lender to negotiate a resolution.

The conspirators knew these representations were false and fraudulent. Synergy Law and Themis Law never operated a “national law firm,” and never provided legal services to homeowners. Neither Synergy Law nor Themis Law had attorneys review homeowner files, and neither Synergy Law nor Themis Law had attorneys contact a client’s lender to discuss a mortgage resolution. The homeowners signed agreements in which the law firms promised to provide “legal representation,” “attorney services” and “legal services” to the homeowner-client. Synergy Law required homeowner-clients to pay an initial retainer amount (often between $995 and $1,750), followed by a monthly recurring amount (often between $595 and $1,200), for as long as Synergy Law represented the homeowner. Once victim funds were in that account, Maresca, Marinelli, and Blackstone used the funds for their personal benefit, and continued to collect monthly payments from the clients. When the clients faced imminent foreclosure, Synergy Law provided non-legal bankruptcy petition preparation services and directed clients to file pro se bankruptcy petitions to stop foreclosure. Synergy Law directed clients not to disclose that the clients had worked with Synergy Law to prepare their bankruptcy petition. Themis Law clients, who were considering filing for bankruptcy to save their homes, were referred to Babbs Law where they signed a new retainer agreement and paid additional fees.

When bankruptcy judges, Synergy Law clients, and the U.S. Trustee’s Program raised concerns about Synergy Law’s practices in bankruptcy matters, Blackstone attended court hearings on behalf of Synergy Law and made false statements to the court about Synergy Law’s operations. When Marinelli’s law license was suspended in New Jersey in 2017, and the District of Columbia in 2018, Maresca, Marinelli, and Blackstone continued to operate Synergy Law and collect monthly payments purportedly for legal services.

Maresca is also charged with falsely filing for bankruptcy on behalf of Synergy Law.  According to the indictment, in answering a question on the bankruptcy forms about financial affairs, which required Synergy Law LLC to list transfers of money or other property that was not in the ordinary course of business, Maresca falsely stated “None,” when he knew he had withdrawn S315,083.42 from Synergy Law accounts to purchase his personal residence.

The indictment further charges Maresca, Marinelli, and Blackstone with five counts of mail fraud; Maresca, Babbs, and Blackstone with three counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud; and Maresca with five counts of monetary transactions in criminally-derived property, and two counts of falsification of bankruptcy records. Maresca was arrested today and made an initial appearance in Washington, D.C.; Marinelli was arrested today and made an initial appearance in New Jersey.

The charges were announced by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Special Agent in Charge Wayne A. Jacobs, of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal and Cyber Division, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Kareem A. Carter of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”) Washington, D.C. Field Office.

Maresca formed Synergy Law LLC (“Synergy”), in Washington DC, in 2016, and Themis Law PLLC (“Themis”) in  2019. Marinelli, who was licensed in New Jersey, owned 10 percent of Synergy; Babbs, who was licensed in Florida and D.C., owned his own firm – Babbs Law Firm P.L. (“Babbs”) – and 10 percent of Themis. Blackstone worked for all three firms.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI urge anyone who did business with these law firms, and who think they were defrauded, to visit and/or contact the Mega Victim Case Assistance Program (MCAP) at 1-844-527-5299. You can also send an email to

This case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office and the Washington, D.C. Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations.

It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John Borchert.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Carol Bragdon, 49, Bangor, Maine, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud and making false statements to a mortgage lending business. She also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of making a false statement to a licensed firearms dealer.

According to court records, between November 2020 and April 2021, Bragdon, provided false statements and representations to a residential mortgage lender for the purpose of obtaining a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) backed loan. She used Google email accounts to communicate with the lender and the VA and to transmit documentation as part of the scheme. The emails were transmitted from Maine to another state.

In August 2021, Bragdon purchased five firearms at Maine Military Supply in Brewer, falsely stating that she was the actual purchaser of the firearms. She was accompanied by an individual who directed her to specific firearms and who was later arrested with one of the firearms, a Walther model PK380 .380 caliber pistol. That individual was prohibited from purchasing a firearm under federal law.

Straw purchasing typically involves a buyer who can lawfully purchase firearms but who then provides them to another person who is legally prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms, therefore allowing the prohibited person to illegally obtain firearms and avoid the national background check system.

Bragdon faces up to 30 years in prison and up to five years of supervised release. She will be sentenced after the completion of a presentence investigation report by the U.S. Probation Office. A federal district judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Omayra Ujaque ,52, St. Cloud, Florida, has been found guilty of three counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

According to evidence presented at trial, Ujaque, in her capacity as a licensed mortgage loan officer, created and executed a mortgage fraud scheme targeting the financial institution where she worked. To ensure that otherwise unqualified borrowers were approved for mortgage loans, Ujaque falsified the borrowers’ income by fabricating or inflating the amounts of their monthly child support payments on mortgage loan applications that she signed and certified to the financial institution’s underwriting department. In furtherance of her scheme, Ujaque created fictitious Final Judgments of Dissolution of Marriage and Final Orders Modifying Child Support that fraudulently represented that the borrowers were entitled to receive non-existent monthly child support payments. Ujaque then used the names of judges from the Circuit Court of the Ninth District of Florida and forged their signatures on the fabricated Final Judgments of Dissolution of Marriage or Final Orders Modifying Child Support.

Ujaque also created bogus Florida Department of Revenue Statements listing fraudulent monthly child support payments, as well as phony prepaid debit card statements listing fake borrower withdrawals of the non-existent monthly child support payments. In most cases, the borrowers did not, in fact, have the listed children and/or had never been married. Ujaque submitted bogus paperwork to the financial institution to support the false monthly income on the loan applications. Based on Ujaque’s misrepresentations, the financial institution approved and funded the mortgage loans.

Ujaque faces a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment for each bank fraud count and a mandatory 2-year sentence for the aggravated identity theft county. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 5, 2023. Ujaque had been indicted on February 15, 2023.

This case was investigated by Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.