Archives For Mortgage Fraud

Ernesto Diaz, 66, a former El Monte, California, who managed the sales staff for a program that falsely promised to eliminate the debt owed by struggling homeowners has been found guilty for his role in a scheme that caused customers to lose money and, in many cases, their homes.

Diaz is a former realtor who operated a purported mortgage elimination program in Montebello, California known as Crown Point Education Inc., was found guilty of three counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Prior to the start of the trial, he also pleaded guilty to one count of failure to appear.

According to evidence presented at trial, Diaz and others advertised to distressed homeowners who sought relief from foreclosure and elimination of their mortgage debt. Diaz and others conducted seminars to convince homeowners that the Crown Point program could eliminate all or part of the existing balances on their mortgages, as well as save homes that were near or in foreclosure. Diaz told clients and prospective clients that the Crown Point program involved sending a series of documents to lenders and others to eliminate the clients’ mortgages. Clients were falsely told that the Crown Point program would result in the elimination of their mortgage within six to eight months and that they would be able to obtain up to hundreds of thousands of dollars from their lenders.

After clients signed up for the program and paid a fee, usually $15,000 per property, Diaz and a codefendant directed others to mail packets of information to the clients’ lenders which falsely asserted that the client’s mortgages were invalid and that mortgages would be extinguished if the lenders did not respond. Many of the mailed documents were notarized to create the appearance of legitimacy, at times using a notary’s stamp without that notary’s knowledge or consent. Clients were instructed not to make their mortgage payments while the program was implemented.

Bankruptcy petitions and other legal papers were filed in order to delay foreclosure and eviction actions brought by mortgage lenders. This was done by forging the names of clients in the petitions filed. These delays had the effect of lulling homeowners into believing that the Crown Point program had been effective. In some cases, Diaz and others would cause some clients to unknowingly execute quitclaim deeds that would convey ownership of their homes.

Crown Point obtained nearly $5 million from approximately 400 clients who paid to participate in the Crown Point program. Numerous clients lost their properties in foreclosure sales and were evicted from their properties despite having participated in the Crown Point program.

Diaz entered into a plea agreement in 2012; however, he failed to appear on October 15, 2012, for a change of plea hearing following his arraignment. Diaz was not located after failing to appear and agents believed at the time that he fled to Mexico. Diaz remained a fugitive for approximately seven years until his arrest on October 30, 2019, when he was arrested by the FBI in Santa Ana. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 15 and faces 130 years in federal prison.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI and is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office, Central District of California.

 

Alireza Zamanizadeh, aka Ali Zamani, 63, Portland, Oregon pleaded guilty today for perpetrating a bank fraud scheme whereby he used a residential property he did not own as collateral for obtaining a bank loan worth more than $316,000.

According to court documents, on or about February 17, 2017, Zamanizadeh filed a quitclaim deed in Deschutes County, transferring a residential property in Bend, Oregon to his business for one dollar without the property owner’s consent. A quitclaim deed is a document used to quickly transfer the ownership of real property from one party to another.

Zamanizadeh then used the property as collateral for obtaining a loan worth $316,092. Zamanizadeh forged the property owner’s signature on a statement verifying the property transfer as required by the mortgage lender and title company processing the loan.  Based on Zamanizadeh’s false representations, the mortgage company approved the loan and transferred the funds to Zamanizadeh’s bank account.

On June 14, 2021, Zamanizadeh was charged by criminal information with bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Zamanizadeh waived indictment and pleaded guilty to bank fraud.

Bank fraud is punishable by up to 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine, and three years’ supervised release.

Zamanizadeh will be sentenced on January 4, 2022 before U.S. District Court Judge Anna J. Brown.

As part of the plea agreement, Zamanizadeh has agreed to pay $400,000 in restitution to his victim and has transferred a second residential property in Clark County, Washington back to the victim.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation with assistance from FBI and is being prosecuted by Katherine A. Rykken, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Dennys Tapia, 55, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey was sentenced today to 15 months in prison for his role in a scheme to defraud financial institutions of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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

From 2015 to 2018, Tapia conspired with others to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans from financial institutions, including “Mortgage Lender A” and “Mortgage Lender B,” to finance the purchase of properties by unqualified buyers. Applicants for mortgage loans are required to list their assets and income on their mortgage loan applications, and mortgage lenders rely on those applications when deciding whether to issue mortgage loans.

Tapia admitted participating in a conspiracy in which he knowingly provided fraudulent documents to a loan officer at Mortgage Lender A for potential borrowers, including fraudulent lease agreements, bank statements, and a gift check and gift letter. Based on this false information, Mortgage Lender A issued mortgage loans to unqualified buyers, which caused Mortgage Lender A hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses. Some of the loans Mortgage Lender A issued to unqualified borrowers were sold to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation “Freddie Mac,” a government-sponsored enterprise with the mission of providing liquidity, stability, and affordability in the United States housing market.

Tapia also admitted causing a straw borrower, “Individual A,” to apply to Mortgage Lender B for a cash-out refinance mortgage loan that contained multiple misrepresentations of material facts and fraudulent documents, including pay stubs and a verification of employment. Based on the false information submitted by Individual A and Tapia, Mortgage Lender B issued a false and fraudulent cash-out refinance mortgage loan, which resulted in Tapia earnings tens of thousands of dollars in profits.

Tapia previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Judge Chesler imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig made the announcement.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Chesler sentenced Tapia to two years of supervised release and ordered restitution of $182,508 and forfeiture of $176,532.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, and special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert Manchak, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Fayer of the Economic Crimes Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlie Divine of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General.

 

Brent Kaufman, 50, Commack, New York, a former unlicensed mortgage broker, pleaded guilty today to criminal information charging him with stealing $4.7 million in mortgage refinancing proceeds that were meant to pay off the existing mortgages of his clients.

According to court filings and facts presented during the plea proceeding, Kaufman worked as an unlicensed mortgage broker and often assisted clients in Queens and Long Island with refinancing their mortgages.  At the closing for a mortgage refinancing, the money from the new mortgage is supposed to be wired to the financial institution that holds the existing mortgage so that it can be paid off. Between 2016 and 2019, Kaufman, together with others, engaged in a scheme to defraud Home Point Financial Corporation, LoanDepot.com LLC and United Wholesale Mortgage and other mortgage lenders (the “Lenders”) by obtaining, and attempting to obtain, monies and funds from the Lenders by means of materially false representations.  Specifically, Kaufman provided incorrect wire routing information to the Lenders for the existing mortgages.  Instead of wiring the funds to the correct financial institution, the funds were instead transferred to bank accounts controlled by Kaufman.  As a result, the existing mortgages were not paid off, leaving the clients with two mortgages on their homes, and Kaufman stole the funds for his own personal use.

During the period of the charged conduct, Kaufman stole more than over $4.7 million, some of which he used to make mortgage payments on the existing mortgages or to eventually pay off those mortgages to avoid detection of his scheme.  When Kaufman stopped paying the existing mortgages, several of his clients’ homes were foreclosed on.  Victims of the scheme ultimately suffered a loss of approximately $2.5 million.

When sentenced, Kaufman faces up to 30 years in prison, as well as forfeiture and a fine of up to $1 million.

Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), Robert W. Manchak, Special Agent-in-Charge, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG), and Darnell D. Edwards, Acting Inspector-in-Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division (USPIS), announced the guilty plea.

With today’s guilty plea, Kaufman admits to stealing millions of dollars in a brazen mortgage fraud scheme that defrauded numerous lenders and left his homeowner-clients in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis.  “This Office is committed to prosecuting defendants like Kaufman who are driven by greed to abuse the trust of innocent homeowners.” Ms. Kasulis expressed her grateful appreciation to the FBI, FHFA-OIG and the USPIS for their outstanding work and assistance in this investigation and prosecution.

Not only did Kaufman steal his victims’ money, but he also violated their trust, leaving them financially vulnerable and at risk of significant financial complications,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.  “Collectively, his victims suffered millions of dollars in losses. Today’s guilty plea reminds us of the threat posed by those who prioritize their own financial interests above all else.”

Brent Kaufman betrayed the trust of unsuspecting homeowners by stealing millions of dollars in mortgage payoffs and failing to repay lenders.  As demonstrated by these charges, FHFA-OIG and its law enforcement partners will investigate and hold accountable those who seek to victimize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and misuse the lending process to unjustly enrich themselves,” stated FHFA-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge-Manchak.

“This is a classic case of greed overcoming honest business practices, as Mr. Kaufman took advantage of his access to clients funds to enrich his own lifestyle. His actions left many in financial ruin, holding two mortgages and facing the threat of foreclosure. Law enforcement will always work tirelessly to bring individuals to justice for their crimes against the American public,” stated USPIS Acting Inspector-in-Charge Edwards.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan Siegel and Laura Mantell.

 

Christopher Castle, 57, formerly of Petaluma, California was found guilty on Monday of 35 counts in a bank fraud scheme that sought to fraudulently eliminate home mortgages and then profit on the subsequent home sales.

According to court documents, between April 22, 2010, and November 18, 2011, Castle was the leader of a conspiracy that ran a “mortgage elimination program” that purported to help distressed homeowners avoid foreclosure. The conspirators fraudulently altered the chain of title on residential properties, sold the properties, and received the sales proceeds.

As a requirement for participation in the “mortgage elimination program,” the conspirators enrolled homeowners as members in a Nevada City-based church named Shon-te-East-a, Walks With Spirit, or its successor entity Pillow Foundation. The conspirators told the homeowners that these entities would offer protection against the banks.

Castle directed other co-conspirators in all aspects of the mortgage elimination program, including recruiting homeowners into the scheme, marshaling the necessary recorded documents, and guiding the homes through sale. Once the homeowner enrolled with Shon-te-East-a or Pillow Foundation, Castle would cause a sham deed of trust to be created and recorded, giving the impression that the homeowner had refinanced the mortgage loan with a new lender. In reality, the new lender was a fake entity controlled by the conspirators, and the homeowner owed no money to the purported new lender.

The next step in the process was also a recorded document. The conspirators caused a fake deed of reconveyance to be recorded, giving the appearance that the true mortgage loan had been discharged and that the true lienholder no longer had a security interest in the home.

With title appearing to be clear, the conspirators caused the sale of the home and split the proceeds between the co-conspirators and the homeowners.

In total, 37 properties were sold through the Shon-te-East-a conspiracy. The conspirators recorded fraudulent documents on an additional approximately 100 homes but were unable to sell these before the scheme unraveled.

In May 2020, Castle was extradited to the United States from Australia. Castle had fled to New Zealand and then Australia in 2011 when it became clear that his scheme was unraveling. After a three-year extradition process, Castle was transported back to the United States by the U.S. Marshals Service to stand trial in the United States.

The U.S. Marshals Service successfully conducted this extradition during the height of the pandemic,” said Acting U.S. Marshal Lasha R. Boyden for the Eastern District of California. “To minimize exposure, the extradition was conducted expeditiously with minimal time on the ground. All safety precautions were implemented, and Mr. Castle was extradited back to the United States without incident.

This was the first jury trial in the Eastern District of California since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert made the announcement.

Castle decided to game the system so that he could profit in the midst of the then looming financial crisis, to which his actions contributed,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Talbert. “We are gratified by the jury’s verdict for this significant fraud scheme.

Mortgage fraud is not a victimless crime. Identifying and investigating those who abuse the system for their own personal gain ensures the mortgage system is safer and fairer for everyone. The FBI affirms our commitment to pursuing those who leverage false statements made to financial institutions to enrich themselves while threatening the stability of the banking system and taking advantage of distressed homeowners desperate to retain their homes or start anew without significant losses,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. “We thank our domestic and international law enforcement partners for their continued efforts to ensure fugitives will face justice regardless of the distance traveled or time that has elapsed.”

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Audrey B. Hemesath and Tanya B. Syed are prosecuting the case.

Three other co-defendants have previously entered guilty pleas. On April 21, 2017, Remus A. Kirkpatrick, formerly of Oceanside, California pleaded guilty to one count of falsely making writings of lending associations. On May 26, 2017, Michael Romano, Benicia, California pleaded guilty to conspiracy. On July 14, 2017, Laura Pezzi, Roseville, California pleaded guilty to falsely making writings of lending associations.

In related cases, on September 4, 2015, Tisha Trites and Todd Smith, both of San Diego, California pleaded guilty to related charges.

Two other co-defendants, George B. Larsen and Larry Todt, were convicted of conspiracy and bank fraud following a jury trial in December 2017.

Co-defendant John Michael DiChiara passed away on Aug. 24, 2019, while awaiting trial.

Castle is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. on October 28, 2021, at which time he faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for bank fraud, 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for falsely making documents of a lending association, and five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy. 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.

Patrick Joseph Soria, 35, West Hollywood, California was sentenced today to 152 months in federal prison for orchestrating a real estate fraud scheme that victimized more than 2,000 homeowners, involved fraudulent filings that affected the title to properties across the country and caused more than $7 million in losses.

From January 2015 to June 2018, Soria stole money from homeowners and would-be home buyers through a two-pronged scheme.

Firstly, Soria hijacked title to properties through fraudulent title filings done at county recorders’ offices around the country. He faked the filings to make it appear that he owned the properties, and then “sold” the properties to victims who thought they were buying the homes from the true owner. In fact, Soria never owned the homes, and he instead used the victims’ “purchase” money for his own personal expenses, including escort services, stays at luxury hotels, and Bentley and Lamborghini car rentals.

In the second part of the scheme, Soria convinced homeowners that he could help them with their mortgages, either by assisting them with a loan modification or by taking over their mortgage from their lender, with the promised result, either way, of reducing their mortgage payments. He told them that he had achieved success in this area in the past, and he convinced them that he was trying to help them, often befriending them to gain their trust and give them hope.

After gaining the victims’ trust, Soria convinced homeowners to stop paying their real lender and to start paying him. Through yet more fraudulent filings, Soria deceived his victims into believing he had taken over their mortgages. He also falsely lulled victims into doing nothing to protect themselves when they started receiving foreclosure and eviction notices. Many of the homeowners targeted in the scheme lost their homes.

As part of the fraud, Soria used company names such as HBSC US and Deutsche Mellon National Asset LLC, designed to trick homeowners into thinking that these companies were real. He also took advantage of the complex mix of lenders, trustees, beneficiaries, and servicers in the mortgage market, and the assignments of mortgage loans between entities, to confuse homeowners and to make it seem as if he did in fact own the properties and mortgages.

More than 2,000 individuals were victimized through this scheme. Soria admitted in court documents that losses totaled more than $7.6 million. In addition to causing losses to individual homeowners, the fraud scheme also victimized numerous lenders who held mortgages on, or other interests in, properties targeted in the scheme.

The targeted properties were located nationwide, including in Texas, New York, Nevada, and in the California cities of Vernon, Beverly Hills, Santa Ana, Yorba Linda, Anaheim and elsewhere.

A restitution hearing is scheduled for October 25, 2021. Soria pleaded guilty on March 2, 2021 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of contempt of court.

Soria was sentenced by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer, who called Soria “a skillful conman who created a very sophisticated scheme.” Judge Fischer also stated, “This is not the largest case I have presided over in terms of dollars, but it is the most brazen and heartless.”

In a related matter, Soria committed numerous acts of contempt of court in a related civil case before Judge Fischer, Nationstar Mortgage LLC v. Patrick Soria, et al., 18-cv-03041-DSF-RAO (C.D. Cal.), including willfully spending funds subject to an asset freeze. The contempt resulted in his incarceration in 2018, and criminal charges filed by the Court in 2019 by way of an Order to Show Cause.

This matter was investigated by the FBI and the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the Los Angeles Police Department; the Beverly Hills Police Department; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office; and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Assistant United States Attorney Kerry L. Quinn of the Major Frauds Section prosecuted this case.

 

Tammy Hamrin, formerly known as Tammy A. Cheek, 58, Virginia Beach, Virginia, the former president of an escrow and title company was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for misappropriating $715,000 of closing funds in connection with 48 real estate transactions for which she served as the settlement agent.

According to court documents, Hamrin was a licensed title and settlement agent and was the president, secretary, and treasurer of Preferred Escrow and Title, Inc. During 48 real estate transactions between January 2018 and approximately February 2018, Hamrin misappropriated $715,000 of closing funds that had been deposited by various lenders and individual buyers into the company’s escrow account. She did so by making seven unauthorized wire transfers of funds from the escrow account to certain entities at the request of a person with whom Hamrin had an online personal relationship.

During this period, Hamrin partially replenished the funds that she had misappropriated by depositing approximately $199,000 of her own money into the escrow account, resulting in a remaining shortage of approximately $516,000. As a result, all 48 closings were affected. Among others, losses were sustained by sellers, buyers, business entities, financial institutions, various lienholders, municipal clerks of court and treasurer offices, and a title insurance company.

Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan M. Salsbury prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:21-cr-2.

Marvette Thompson Easterling, of Gaffney, South Carolina; Keylon Wright, 40, Simpsonville, South Carolina; and Joshua David Armato, 37, Georgia, today admitted that they knowingly defrauded a program established to help homeowners at risk of mortgage loan default and foreclosure of thousands of dollars. The three pleading guilty to bank fraud charges that defrauded the federal government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Evidence presented in court showed that through false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, Easterling obtained funds from SC Housing, a federally funded mortgage payment assistance program that provided eligible homeowners with temporary mortgage assistance so that they could avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. Easterling concealed and failed to notify SC Housing of monthly rental income she received for the property as well as the  nonowner-occupied status of the property in order to receive and use federal funds to which she was not eligible.

Additional evidence presented in court further showed that Wright executed a similar scheme for a property in Mauldin, South Carolina while Armato executed a similar scheme for a property in Simpsonville, South Carolina. Wright and Armato concealed and failed to notify SC Housing of the non-owner occupied statuses of their properties and the rental of the properties to unrelated third parties in order to receive and use federal funds to which they were not eligible.

U.S. District Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks ordered each defendant to a sentence of time served followed by five years of supervised release and the repayment of the stolen funds for the felony charges.

Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart made the announcement.

With today’s sentencing, SIGTARP and the United States Attorney’s Office have brought justice for defendants who defraud and steal from the Hardest Hit Fund, a federal program that helps unemployed homeowners stay in their home,” said Special Inspector General Christy Goldsmith Romero. “Easterling, Wright, and Armato separately lied to get thousands of federal dollars for mortgage assistance, concealing that they did not live in the house and concealing rental income. Now they are convicted of fraud and must repay the stolen funds.

Stealing from the federal government, particularly from programs that help the least fortunate in America, will not be tolerated,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart. “Our office appreciates the investigative work of the Special Inspector General for TARP (SIGTARP) and will continue to  work with SIGTARP to protect American tax dollars.

The cases were investigated by SIGTARP, as an independent law enforcement agency used to investigate fraud, waste, and abuse related to the TARP bailout.

Assistant United States Attorney Winston Marosek prosecuted the cases.

Marvette Thompson Easterling, 54, Gaffney, South Carolina; Keylon Wright, 40, Simpsonville, South Carolina; and Joshua David Armato, 37, Georgia today admitted that they knowingly defrauded a program established to help homeowners at risk of mortgage loan default and foreclosure of thousands of dollars in a scheme that defrauded the federal government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Evidence presented in court showed that through false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, Easterling obtained funds from SC Housing, a federally funded mortgage payment assistance program that provided eligible homeowners with temporary mortgage assistance so that they could avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes.  Easterling concealed and failed to notify SC Housing of monthly rental income she received for the property as well as the non-owner-occupied status of the property in order to receive and use federal funds to which she was not eligible.

Additional evidence presented in court further showed that Wright executed a similar scheme for a property in Mauldin, South Carolina, while Armato executed a similar scheme for a property in Simpsonville, South Carolina.  Wright and Armato concealed and failed to notify SC Housing of the non-owner occupied statuses of their properties and the rental of the properties to unrelated third parties in order to receive and use federal funds to which they were not eligible.

Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart made the announcement.

U.S. District Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks ordered each defendant to a sentence of time served followed by five years of supervised release and the repayment of the stolen funds for the felony charges.

With today’s sentencing, SIGTARP and the United States Attorney’s Office have brought justice for defendants who defraud and steal from the Hardest Hit Fund, a federal program that helps unemployed homeowners stay in their home,” said Special Inspector General Christy Goldsmith Romero.  “Easterling, Wright, and Armato separately lied to get thousands of federal dollars for mortgage assistance, concealing that they did not live in the house and concealing rental income.  Now they are convicted of fraud and must repay the stolen funds.”

Stealing from the federal government, particularly from programs that help the least fortunate in America, will not be tolerated,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DeHart.  “Our office appreciates the investigative work of the Special Inspector General for TARP (SIGTARP) and will continue to work with SIGTARP to protect American tax dollars.

The cases were investigated by SIGTARP, as an independent law enforcement agency used to investigate fraud, waste, and abuse related to the TARP bailout.

Assistant United States Attorney Winston Marosek prosecuted the cases.

Osbado Hernandez, 52, Avenel, New Jersey, a former Hudson County Sheriff’s officer, was charged for making 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 a mortgage on a property in Keansburg, New Jersey, Hernandez made 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 intended to vacate the property following the short sale. Hernandez fraudulently withheld information regarding the availability of funds in a savings account he failed to disclose to the bank. Hernandez also signed a sworn affidavit that he would not stay in the property for more than 90 days following the short sale, even though he intended to, and did, continue living at the property. As a result of the fraudulent short sale, the bank discharged over $98,000 of debt against Hernandez.

The false statements charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of up to $1 million.

Hernandez appeared this afternoon via videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jessica S. Allen in Newark federal court and was released on $100,000 unsecured bond.

Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig made the announcement.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig 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 Michael Montanez, with the investigation leading to the charge.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elaine K. Lou of the Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.

The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.