Archives For Stephanie Abbott

Theodore Kurz, 72, New Orleans, Louisiana, was sentenced on August 4, 2022 for mortgage fraud.

According to court documents, Kurz obtained mortgages for three properties through the State of Louisiana, Division of Administration, Office of Community Development.  He then forged mortgage cancellations that he filed with the Orleans Parish Clerk of Court to falsely make it appear that the loans had been satisfied.  Kurz then obtained mortgages through a different lender, falsely claiming that there were no outstanding mortgages or liens on the properties.

Kurz was sentenced to time served, 5 years of supervised release, $751,900 in restitution, and a mandatory $100 special assessment fee.

The Announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans.

U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for investigating this matter.  The prosecution of this case was handled by Assistant U. S. Attorney G. Dall Kammer, Chief of General Crimes Unit.

Maria Del Carmen Montes, 46, Kissimmee, Florida has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, four counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Also charged is Montes’ husband Carlos Ferrer, 45, Kissimmee, Florida with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and three counts of bank fraud.

According to the Indictment, Montes and Ferrer conspired to create and executed a mortgage fraud scheme targeting financial institutions. To ensure that otherwise unqualified borrowers she was representing as a licensed realtor were approved for mortgage loans, Montes created fictitious and fraudulent paystubs and IRS Form W-2s in the names of companies for whom her clients had never worked. The bogus income documents falsely indicated that her clients had worked at these companies, including companies formed and controlled by Ferrer, for a certain period of time and earned income that they did not. Montes submitted the fictitious paystubs and W-2s she created to the financial institutions who relied on them when making underwriting decisions. Additionally, Montes used her clients’ personally identifying information on these documents without their knowledge or authorization.

In order to further deceive the mortgage lenders, Montes and Ferrer recruited a co-conspirator working at a company listed on certain false paystubs and W-2s to falsely certify Verifications of Employment (VOEs”) sent by the financial institutions and instructed the co-conspirator to lie to the final institutions when they called to further verify the borrower’s employment. Ferrer and Montes sent the false and fictitious paystubs and W-2s to the co-conspirator so the co-conspirator could put the false information on the VOEs before certifying, signing, and returning them to the financial institutions. Ferrer also falsely certified and emailed VOEs sent by the financial institution in the names of borrowers that he knew did not work for his companies and lied to the banks during verbal VOE checks. Based on Montes’ and Ferrer’s misrepresentations, the financial institutions approved and funded the mortgage loans.

If convicted, Montes faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison on the conspiracy count, up to 30 years for each fraud count, and a mandatory penalty of 2 years’ imprisonment for the aggravated identity theft count. If convicted, Ferrer faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison for the conspiracy count, and up to, 30 years’ imprisonment for each fraud count.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  It will be prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

 

Heather Ann Campos, 43, Houston, Texas, David Lewis Best Jr., 56, Spring, Texas and Stephen Laverne Crabtree, 62, Herriman, Utah, have been taken into custody on charges related to a multi-layered mortgage fraud, credit repair and government loan fraud scheme. The tri had evaded law enforcement for several months.

All three allegedly sent numerous sovereign citizen letters to federal agencies and the federal court in Houston declaring themselves immune from prosecution and refusing to recognize the authority of the federal courts.

The charges allege Campos and Best recruited clients for credit repair using company names of KMD Credit, KMD Capital and Jeff Funding, among others. They allegedly “cleaned” their clients’ credit histories by filing false identity theft reports with the FTC. After fraudulently inflating client credit worthiness, the co-conspirators fraudulently obtained credit cards, disaster loans and mortgages for themselves and their clients, according to the charges. They were allegedly able to accomplish this through false statements and fake documents.

Campos was a mortgage broker and Buckley a realtor, while operating as a notary was the responsibility of Munoz, according to the charges. After fraudulently inflating client credit worthiness, the individuals allegedly obtained rental properties to deceptively build a real estate portfolio worth millions of dollars in their clients’ names and profit from rental income. The charges allege Crabtree was a credit repair client and recruited others, including his family members, and conspired to commit wire fraud.

In addition, they allegedly obtained loans from banks and the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and Paycheck Protection Program. They were created in the names of clients, friends and family members through false statements and fake or altered documents.

Using the alias Jeff, Morizono was the leader and namesake for the scheme purporting to do business as Jeff Funding, according to the charges.

Campos and Best were indicted in January on numerous charges for participating in a conspiracy to defraud mortgage lending businesses, banks, Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They indicated they would self-surrender but allegedly fled from law enforcement. Since that date, several other co-conspirators were indicted, including Crabtree. He was released on bond and also became a fugitive.

Others indicted include Steven Tetsuya Morizono, 59, Mission Viejo, California; Albert Lugene Lim, 53, Laguna Niguel, California; Melinda Moreno Munoz, 41, Elvina Buckley, 68, Leslie Edrington, 65, and ShyAnne Edrington, 29, all of Houston, Texas.

Campos is set for a detention hearing before U.S. Judge Dena H. Palermo today at 10 a.m. Best and  Crabtree remain in custody pending further criminal proceedings.

U.S. Attorney Jennifer B Lowery made the announcement.

If convicted, they all face up to 30 years in federal prison and a possible $1 million maximum fine.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General (OIG), U.S. Postal Inspection Service and SBA – OIG conducted the investigation with the assistance of the FTC – OIG and IRS – Criminal Investigation.

Other agencies assisted with the arrests of Campos, Best and Crabtree, to include The Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake; police departments in South Jordan, Riverton, and Herriman, Utah; FBI Hostage Rescue Team; U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City Divisions; and the U.S. Marshals Violent Fugitive Apprehension Strike Force.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kate Suh and Jay Hileman are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

 

Todd Ament, 57, Orange, California, the former president and CEO of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce pleaded guilty today to federal criminal charges for defrauding a cannabis company, fraudulently obtaining a COVID-relief business loan worth nearly $62,000, lying to a bank while seeking a loan for a $1.5 million second home, and cheating on his taxes.

According to his plea agreement, in 2019, Ament served as president and CEO of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce. During that time, Ament and a political consultant who was a partner at a national public relations firm, devised a scheme to divert proceeds intended for the Chamber through the PR firm and into Ament’s personal bank account.

Ament and the political consultant schemed to defraud a cannabis company that had retained the political consultant to lobby for favorable cannabis-related legislation in Anaheim. The cannabis company paid $225,000 to the Chamber with the understanding that it would have access to a task force that crafted such legislation, but at least $41,000 of that money was paid directly to Ament without those payments being disclosed to the client.

In December 2020, Ament lied to JPMorgan Chase by submitting a letter falsely representing that three deposits from the PR firm to Ament-controlled bank accounts – totaling $205,000 – were earned income based on services provided by TA Consulting LLC on the PR firm’s behalf. In fact, Ament knew the $205,000 represented a loan to himself and was not earned income.

In April 2020, Ament applied to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) on behalf of his company, TA Consulting LLC, a sole proprietorship based in Big Bear City that had no substantial operations or employees. In May 2020, the SBA wired Ament $61,900 as EIDL proceeds for his business. Ament used the money to pay for various personal expenses, including at clothing stores, boat dealers and on property taxes on his home.

Finally, Ament admitted in his plea agreement that for the tax years 2017, 2018 and 2019 he knowingly and willfully caused false tax returns to be signed and filed that did not report income he had received from various sources. For example, in July 2019, Ament signed and filed a federal tax return that reported that his gross receipts for the tax year 2018 was $0, when in fact his actual gross receipts for that year were $179,336.

In total, Ament caused a tax loss to the United States government of $249,998 for those three tax years.

Ament pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, one count of making a false statement to a financial institution, and one count of subscribing to a false tax return.

United States District Judge Fernando L. Aenlle-Rocha scheduled a December 9 sentencing hearing, at which time Ament will face statutory maximum sentences of 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud count, 30 years in federal prison for the false statement to a financial institution count, and three years’ imprisonment for the tax count.

The FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation are investigating this matter.

American Financial Network, Inc., a mortgage lender based in Brea, California, has agreed to pay $1,037,145 to resolve allegations that it improperly and fraudulently originated government-backed mortgage loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), a component of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Since at least December 2011, AFN has been a participant in FHA’s Direct Endorsement Program. Through this program, a lender such as AFN is authorized to originate and approve mortgage loans to be insured by FHA without any prior review or approval by FHA. Lenders such as AFN are responsible for carefully underwriting the mortgage to make sure that it meets all FHA requirements. Once a mortgage loan is insured by FHA, if the borrower defaults or is unable to repay the mortgage, the lender that holds the mortgage note can submit a claim for insurance benefits to FHA to cover its losses.

The settlement resolves allegations that between December 2011 and March 2019, AFN knowingly underwrote certain FHA mortgages and approved for insurance certain mortgages that did not meet FHA requirements or qualify for insurance, resulting in losses to the United States when the borrowers defaulted on those mortgages. The settlement further resolves allegations that AFN knowingly failed to perform quality control reviews that it was required to perform.

This case began in March 2019 when a whistleblower, a former loan processor with AFN, filed a qui tam complaint under seal in federal court in Spokane. When a whistleblower, or “relator,” files a qui tam complaint, the False Claims Act requires the United States to investigate the allegations and elect whether to intervene and take over the action or to decline to intervene and allow the relator to go forward with the litigation on behalf of the United States. The relator is generally able to then share in any recovery. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, the relator in this case will receive $228,172 of the settlement, and will also recover her attorney’s fees, expenses, and costs.

Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, made the announcement.

FHA-backed mortgages are a critical resource for first-time homebuyers, moderate-income borrowers, and families who have suffered negative credit due to the pandemic or other events out of their control,” said U.S. Attorney Waldref. “By improperly originating ineligible mortgages, lenders take advantage of the limited resources of the FHA program and unfairly pass the risk of loss onto the public.

Quality and affordable housing is a critical issue in Eastern Washington and across the nation,” said U.S. Attorney Waldref. “Protecting the resources that support families who dream of purchasing their first home makes our community stronger. I commend the exceptional investigative work by Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General and HUD’s Office of Inspector General that holds accountable those who abuse housing programs.”

HUD’s Office of Inspector General is committed to working with the Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners to ensure that federal programs designed to help our nation’s most vulnerable are not abused,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Scott Tanchak. “Today’s settlement demonstrates the Government’s commitment to protecting the integrity of HUD programs.

Investigations such as these help safeguard the integrity of the home loan approval process and protect vulnerable veterans from fraudulent lending practices,” said Special Agent in Charge Jason Root of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s Northwest Field Office. “The VA OIG thanks the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington and HUD’s Office of Inspector General for their partnership in this joint investigation.

The settlement was the result of a joint investigation conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington, HUD’s Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Spokane Resident Office.

Assistant United States Attorneys Tyler H.L. Tornabene and Dan Fruchter and Special Assistant United States Attorney Frieda K. Zimmerman handled this matter on behalf of the United States. The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.

George Kritopoulos, 50, Salem, Massachusetts, a former self-proclaimed Salem real estate developer has been convicted by a federal jury in Boston in connection with a 10-year mortgage fraud scheme involving at least two dozen fraudulent loan transactions totaling $6.5 million and resulting in more than $3.8 million in losses to lenders.

Kritopoulos was convicted on May 27, 2022, of one count of conspiracy, two counts of wire fraud, six counts of bank fraud, one count of aiding the preparation of a false income tax return and one count of obstruction of justice. U.S. District Court Judge Patti B. Saris scheduled sentencing for Sept. 29, 2022. Kritopoulos was charged in September 2018 along with co-defendants Joseph Bates III and David Plunkett.

From 2006 through 2015, Kritopoulos, Bates and others engaged in a scheme to defraud banks and other financial institutions by causing false information to be submitted to those institutions on behalf of borrowers – people recruited to purchase properties – located primarily in Salem. The properties were usually multi-family buildings with two-to-four units, which the co-conspirators then converted into condominiums. Kritopoulos recruited new borrowers to purchase the individual condominium units, which were also financed by mortgage loans obtained by fraud.

The false information submitted to lenders included, among other things, representations concerning the borrowers’ employment, income, assets and intent to occupy the property. Specifically, the false employment information included representations that borrowers were employed by entities that were, in fact, shell companies “owned” by Kritopoulos and were used to advance the fraudulent scheme. The employment information also included false representations about the income that the borrowers received from the entities, when, in fact, the borrowers received little or no income from them. As a result, the income asserted on the borrowers’ loan applications that Kritopoulos submitted to lenders grossly inflated their true income. The false information also included representations that the recruited borrowers intended to live in the properties that they were purchasing, when the borrowers, in fact, did not intend to do so. Kritopoulos brought newly recruited borrowers to Plunkett, who then prepared tax returns that contained false and inflated income. Some of those tax returns were submitted to lenders in support of the fraudulent loan applications.

Because the borrowers did not have the financial ability to repay the loans, in all but two instances among 21 properties, they defaulted on their loan payments, resulting in foreclosures and losses to the lenders of more than $3.8 million.

In addition, Kritopoulos sought to obstruct the federal criminal investigation into the mortgage fraud scheme by encouraging Bates and Plunkett to make false statements and create false documents he hoped would make the companies appear to have been legitimate.

In October 2018, Bates pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution, and two counts of bank fraud. A sentencing hearing for Bates has not yet been scheduled by the Court. In February 2019, Plunkett pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of aiding in the submission of false tax returns and is scheduled to be sentenced on September 15, 2022.

Mr. Kritopoulos held himself out to be a prominent real estate developer and believed he was above the law. This guilty verdict makes it clear that he is not,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Mr. Kritopoulos and his co-conspirators thought they could line their pockets by victimizing innocent lenders and borrowers. When the scheme began unraveling, Mr. Kritopoulos attempted to have his co-conspirators create phony documents, but they refused. In an interview, Mr. Kritopoulos lied to investigators. We are committed to holding those who engage in this type of behavior accountable.

This verdict proves that George Kritopoulos is a predator who repeatedly targeted young, financially vulnerable victims and exploited them to pad his own pockets while driving them deeper into debt. He lied to the banks on behalf of those victims and tried to obstruct our investigation,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “Mortgage fraud cases like this one are important to deter would-be fraudsters from acting, and to ensure those who commit fraud, like Kritopoulos, face justice. After all, this type of crime artificially influences home values and threatens the investments of lawful buyers.”

Mortgage fraud, like many financial crimes, creates untold harm to individuals, communities, businesses and the integrity of the financial system,” said Joleen D. Simpson, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, Boston Office. “This guilty verdict is proof of IRS Criminal Investigation’s dedication to protecting the financial health of our communities when they are threatened.”

The charges of bank fraud and wire fraud each provide for sentences of up to 30 years in prison and five years of supervised release. The charge of obstruction of justice provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and five years of supervised release. The charge of conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison and three years of supervised release. The charge of aiding the preparation of false tax returns provides for a sentence of up to three years in prison and one year of supervised release. Each charge also carries a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

U.S. Attorney Rollins, FBI SAC Bonavolonta, IRS CI SAC Simpson and Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeastern Regional Office, made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was provided by the Salem Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Victor A. Wild, of Rollins’ Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit, and Brian M. LaMacchia, of Rollins’ Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit, are prosecuting the case.

 

 

Tiffany Dawn Russell, North Carolina was sentenced to 63 months today for her role in an extensive multi-year fraud conspiracy and was sentenced to 36 months for filing a false tax return.

Russell was originally indicted in November 2020 for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, access device fraud, and misuse of a social security number. According to the Indictment, Russell and her co-conspirators applied for loans and credit cards with social security numbers that were not issued to them by the Social Security Administration.  By doing so, they created new credit profiles or synthetic identities for themselves to open financial accounts and make purchases from retailers without any intention of paying for the items and services obtained.  Russell was charged with using a synthetic identity to purchase a BMW and to obtain a credit card which she used to pay for her 2016 butt augmentation surgery.

Russell also provided fabricated documents when applying for mortgages to purchase three properties, including an oceanfront residence in Nags Head, North Carolina.  Russell gave doctored bank statements and inflated pay stubs to make it appear she had substantial liquid assets and the ability to pay the loans.

In addition to using synthetic identities, Russell also embarked on a scheme of credit washing to remove legitimate debt accounts from her credit history by falsely claiming she was the victim of identity theft and had not opened those accounts.  Once the credit reporting agencies removed those accounts, her credit score improved, enabling her to obtain credit.

Finally, between March 30, 2020 and June 29, 2020, Russell and others fraudulently obtained more than $1 million in loans under the CARES Act, which was enacted by Congress to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.  The ten loan applications, including two for her law firm, contained false representations relating to the number of employees, monthly payroll, revenue, and expenses.

Russell used these illegally-obtained proceeds to make the down payment on her Nags Head property and purchase five other properties in North Carolina, Maryland and Alabama.  Russell also used these ill-gotten gains to pay outstanding personal debt, unrelated to any business entity.

These sentences will be served concurrently. Earlier this year, Russell pled guilty to charges relating to her efforts to obtain more than $2.5 million from at least 12 financial institutions and the United States Small Business Administration.  In addition to her prison sentences, Russell was ordered to forfeit more than $2 million in fraud proceeds.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan B. Menzer was the prosecutor.

This defendant spent years defrauding banks and the federal government, and now she’ll be spending years behind bars,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “As Judge Dever noted at sentencing, this was more than a one-off mistake, it was a multitude of bad decisions by an attorney who knew better. This fraud scheme is even more egregious because the defendant falsely obtained more than $1 million in COVID-relief funds intended to help legitimate, hard-working business owners weather the pandemic. Money intended to keep businesses afloat was instead used to purchase beach homes and support the defendant’s personal interests. I commend the many law enforcement partners on our EDNC Covid Fraud Task Force who helped to ensure that attorney Tiffany Russell faced justice.

On May 17, 2021, the United States Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. The Eastern District of North Carolina’s COVID Task Force is a part of this effort to coordinate fraud-related investigations and prosecutions in Eastern North Carolina. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:20-cr-00505-D-3.

The Financial Litigation Program (FLP) of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio collected $333,549.82 in restitution from a defendant convicted of participating in a $40 million mortgage fraud scheme.

According to court records, a notice of judgment satisfaction was approved for Defendant John J. Dubay on Monday, May 23, 2022.  In 2014, Dubay was convicted by a jury of bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.  Dubay and others were part of a mortgage fraud conspiracy involving dozens of properties along Florida’s Gulf Coast.  As part of the scheme, Dubay and others acted as straw buyers who made false statements, misrepresentations and other omissions in the mortgage loan application process.

As a result of the scheme, Dubay and others obtained numerous home mortgage loans under false and fraudulent pretenses with a total face value of approximately $40 million, many of which ended up in default and foreclosure.

Dubay was sentenced to prison in September 2015 and ordered to pay $333,549.82 in restitution for his role in the conspiracy.

Acting U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the FBI.  The financial litigation was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzana K. Koch.  This case was criminally prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert J. Patton and Om Kakani.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is responsible for enforcing and collecting civil and criminal debts owed to the U.S. and criminal debts owed to federal crime victims.  The law requires defendants to pay restitution to victims of certain federal crimes who have suffered a physical injury or financial loss.

While restitution is paid to the victim, criminal fines and felony assessments are paid to the department’s Crime Victims Fund, which distributes the funds collected to federal and state victim compensation and victim assistance programs.

Forfeited assets deposited into the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund are used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of law enforcement purposes.

Evelisse Hernandez, 40, Kissimmee, Florida has been charged with four counts of bank fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft.

According to the indictment, Hernandez, 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, Hernandez falsified the borrower’s income through completely fabricated or inflated 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, Hernandez created fictitious Final Judgments of Dissolution of Marriage showing the borrowers were entitled to receive non-existent monthly child support payments. Hernandez 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. Hernandez then created bogus Florida Department of Revenue Statements showing the party purportedly paying monthly child support payments to the borrowers and manufactured phony prepaid debit card statements showing the borrowers purportedly withdrawing the non-existent monthly child support payments. In most cases, the borrowers did not have the children listed or had never been married. Hernandez submitted bogus paperwork to the financial institution to support the false monthly income on the loan applications. Based on Hernandez’s misrepresentations, the financial institution approved and funded the mortgage loans.

If convicted, she faces up to 30 years in federal prison on each bank fraud count and a mandatory consecutive 2 years’ imprisonment on the aggravated identity theft counts. The indictment also notifies Hernandez that the United States is seeking an order of forfeiture in the amount of $130,000, representing the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.

United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg made the announcement.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

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

Philip Abramowitz, 50, Pikesville, Maryland, pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in relation to the sale of two Baltimore properties.

According to his guilty plea, from May 2016 to April 2017, Abramowitz and others conspired to defraud two financial institutions by fraudulently obtaining Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans and property under false pretenses.  Specifically, Abramowitz used his company 163 N. Potomac St., LLC., to facilitate the fraudulent sales of his Potomac Street, Baltimore, Maryland properties.

For example, in May 2016, Abramowitz sold one of his Potomac Street properties (Property 1) to a family member (Relative 1) and entered into an agreement with Relative 1 to purchase the property using an FHA-insured loan.  The FHA is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders.  To qualify for the FHA-insured loans, the buyer must use the residence as their primary residence, disclose any familial or business relationship between the seller and buyer, and disclose the source of the money the buyer intends to use for the down payment and closing costs.

As stated in his guilty plea, Relative 1 applied for and received a $294,566 FHA-insured loan with a mortgage company (Mortgage Company 1) by falsely representing Abramowitz’s bank account records as his own.  Relative 1 and Abramowitz also concealed their familial relation from Mortgage Company 1 by submitting false company filings during the loan application process, having Abramowitz’s property manager (Property Manager 1) pose as the sole seller and manager of 163 N. Potomac St., LLC and arranging Property Manager 1 to sign the FHA-loan contact as the official seller of the property.  Abramowitz’s ownership of 163 N, Potomac St., LLC. or involvement in the sale was never disclosed.

To meet the requirements of the loan procurement process, Abramowitz gave Relative 1 $10,500 to pay for the closing costs for Property 1 as Relative 1 did not have the financial means to make the purchase.   Based on the fraudulent financial information presented during the loan application process, Mortgage Company 1 loaned Relative 1 $294,566 for the purchase of Property 1.  The majority of the loan proceeds were subsequently deposited into Abramowitz’s bank account.  Ultimately, Relative 1 never used Property 1 as a primary residence and rented the property to tenants for a year before ceasing mortgage payments and allowing the property to fall into foreclosure.

Further, Abramowitz arranged the sale of his second Potomac Street property (Property 2) in March 2017 to another family member (Relative 2) using an FHA-insured loan.  To facilitate the sale of Property 2, Relative 2 applied for an FHA-insured loan with another mortgage company (Mortgage Company 2).  Using the same manner to defraud Mortgage Company 1, Abramowitz concealed his familial relation to Relative 2, falsely listed his property manager as the sole seller and owner of Property 2 and submitted multiple fraudulent documents to Mortgage Company 2, including an LLC affidavit of title asserting that no other person or entity had ownership in Property 2.

In a similar manner as the sale of Property 1, Abramowitz violated FHA-loan requirements by providing Relative 2 $8,750 for the closing costs of the sale, misrepresented his own bank account information as Relative 2’s in the FHA-loan procurement process, and received the majority of the loan proceeds to his personal bank account.  Relative 2 never used Property 2 as a primary residence or paid monthly mortgage payments to Mortgage Company 2 which caused the property to fall into foreclosure.

Abramowitz faces a maximum of 30 years in prison followed up by 5 years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett has scheduled sentencing for August 9, 2022, at 2:30 p.m.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron and Special Agent in Charge Shawn A. Rice of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General.

As part of his guilty plea, Abramowitz will be ordered to pay $373,684 in restitution.

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended HUD-OIG for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Martin J. Clarke, who is prosecuting the federal case.

For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.