Archives For False Documents

Daniel R. Fruits, 46, Greenwood, Indiana, was charged today by a federal grand jury for his alleged role in three separate fraud schemes, including attempted mortgage fraud , a nearly $14 million fraud on an investor, and a vehicle title-washing scheme.

The Indictment alleges Fruits attempted to perpetrate a mortgage fraud scheme on Fifth Third Bank. Specifically, in late 2018, Fruits made false statements to Fifth Third Bank to secure a $432,000 mortgage. He twice submitted falsified paperwork purporting to show that loans from another bank had been paid off, when they had not been.

The Indictment also alleges that Fruits defrauded a Kentucky investor, who was also Fruits employer, out of nearly $14 million. In 2015, the investor founded a trucking company, Secure Transit, and hired Fruits to run it. Over the next four-and-a-half years, the investor would invest approximately $14 million in the business.

Fruits repeatedly lied about the company’s financial health, who its customers were, and what the money invested was being used for. On multiple occasions, Fruits allegedly sent the investor fictitious customer sales contracts and falsified financial statements that reported inflated company profits. At the same time, Fruits allegedly asked the investor for additional investments, sometimes in the millions of dollars, purportedly for the purchase of trucks or other business expenses.

Fruits spent a significant portion of the money on his own personal purchases and payments. He allegedly spent approximately $880,000 to purchase a horse farm and his personal residence, $560,000 on an RV and trailer, over $111,000 on a Corvette, approximately $90,000 on three Rolex watches, approximately $55,000 on a horse, $33,000 on a horse trailer, $23,000 on payments for two Ferraris, and $30,000 on payments for two escorts.

Finally, Fruits perpetrated a title-washing scheme to remove a bank’s lien from the title of a truck he purchased. He financed the truck with a loan from Ally Financial for over $69,000.  Several months later, he sent the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles a falsified letter purportedly from Ally Financial stating that the loan had been paid off and the lien should be released.

The loan had not been paid off and Ally Financial never wrote that letter. As a result, the BMV issued Fruits a free-and-clear title for the truck, which Fruits then sold for $48,000, without repaying the loan to Ally Financial.

Acting United States Attorney John E. Childress made the announcement.

This financial investor gave his hard-earned money to someone whom he thought he could trust,” said Childress. “Instead, the victim’s money ended up in the hands of a self-absorbed thief who only cared about his interests. Living a life of fraud is inexcusable and always comes to an end.

This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.

This indictment sends a strong message that the FBI will aggressively investigate those who commit such extensive financial fraud and steal from their employer to pad their own pockets to fund a lavish lifestyle,” said FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners will always pursue those who take advantage of others through illegal and criminal behavior.

The IRS enforces the nation’s tax laws, but also takes particular interest in cases where someone, for their own personal benefit and greed, has taken what belongs to others,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Tamera Cantu, of IRS Criminal Investigation, Chicago Field Office. “With our agent’s financial investigation expertise, we followed the money and helped to unravel the fraud and deceit conducted by Mr. Fruits. We are pleased with the successful resolution of this investigation due to the cooperative efforts of our law enforcement partner and the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of Indiana.”

An indictment is a set of allegations and is not itself evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

In November of 2020, Acting United States Attorney John E. Childress renewed a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District’s response to its most significant public safety challenges. This prosecution demonstrates the Office’s firm commitment to prosecuting complex, long-running fraud schemes. (See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan 5.1)

 

Dennys A. Tapia, 54, Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, admitted today, 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 to 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. Tapia also admitted to conspiring with a straw borrower, “Individual A,” to submit an application 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.

The conspiracy charge to which Tapia pleaded guilty carries a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for April 17, 2021.

Tapia pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito made the announcement.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito 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 guilty plea.

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.

Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr., 60, and Nancy Plunkett, 55, both of Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, a former Massachusetts attorney and his wife were indicted today in federal court in Boston in connection with various mortgage fraud schemes.

According to the indictment, until he was disbarred in October 2017, Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. owned and operated the Plunkett Law Firm where his wife, Nancy Plunkett, was his office assistant and paralegal.

The indictment alleges that the defendants engaged in several bank fraud schemes. In one scheme, from September 2012 to July 2016, the defendants defrauded six mortgage lenders and 14 homeowners for whom the Plunkett Law Firm handled the closings for new mortgage loans to refinance residential properties. The defendants informed the mortgage lenders that pre-existing mortgages were paid off from the new loan proceeds when, in fact, the Plunketts intentionally failed to pay off the prior liens and instead converted more than $900,000 in payoff funds for their own purposes.

In other bank fraud schemes – between April 2015 and March 2018 – it is alleged that the Plunketts fraudulently used various names, entities and false documents to obtain three successive mortgage loans on their home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts in amounts of $412,000, $470,000 and $1.2 million. The defendants pledged as collateral a property in Hyannis Port that was held in a family trust for which Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. was one of three beneficiaries. Both defendants participated in providing false documents to the lenders, including false title reports and other records to falsely represent that the property was free and clear of existing mortgage liens and forged documents in the names of other people. The defendants also allegedly made misrepresentations to a lender that Nancy Plunkett was a single woman living in Wellesley who was purchasing the property in her maiden name as a business investment when, in fact, the defendants had been married since 2014 and the property was their residence.

Both were were indicted on five counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Barry Wayne Plunkett Jr. was also charged with one count of tax evasion.

The charge of bank fraud provides for a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of tax evasion provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.  The charge of aggravated identity theft provides for a mandatory two-year sentence to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

 

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor A. Wild of Lelling’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.

Blanca A. Medina, 54, Manalapan, New Jersey, pleaded guilty today, admitting her role in a scheme to defraud a financial institution of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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

From 2015 to 2018, Medina conspired with others to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans from “Mortgage Lender A” in Monmouth County 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.

Medina, a former loan officer for Mortgage Lender A, admitted to participating in a conspiracy in which she knowingly caused completed mortgage loan applications that contained multiple misrepresentations of material facts regarding the buyers’ assets and income to be submitted to Mortgage Lender A. A conspirator provided Medina with false and fraudulent documents for potential borrowers including false and fraudulent lease agreements, bank statements, and a gift check and gift letter. Based on these lies, Mortgage Lender A issued mortgage loans to unqualified buyers, which caused Mortgage Lender A hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.

The conspiracy charge to which Medina pleaded guilty carries a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for October 20, 2020.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito made the announcement.

Medina was charged before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court to a one-count information charging her with conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Douglas Korneski 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 guilty plea.

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.

Gabriel T. Tavarez, 40, the principal and co-founder of a North Andover, Massachusetts mortgage short sale assistance company pleaded guilty today in connection with defrauding mortgage lenders and investors out of nearly $500,000 in proceeds from about 90 short sale transactions.

Tavarez founded and co-operated Loss Mitigation Services, LLC, with co-conspirator Jaime L. Mulvihill, 40, North Andover, Massachusetts who previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced in February 2020 to six months in prison.

The charges arise out of the defendants’ scheme to steal undisclosed and improper fees from mortgage lenders in connection with short sales of homes. A short sale occurs where the mortgage debt on the home is greater than the sale price, and the mortgage lender agrees to take a loss on the transaction.

Loss Mitigation Services, purportedly acting on behalf of underwater homeowners, negotiated with mortgage lenders for approval of short sales in lieu of foreclosure. Mortgage lenders typically forbid short sale negotiators, such as Loss Mitigation Services, from receiving any proceeds of a short sale.

From 2014 to 2017, Tavarez and Mulvihill, directly or through their employees, falsely claimed to homeowners, real estate agents, and closing attorneys that mortgage lenders had agreed to pay Loss Mitigation Services fees known as “seller paid closing costs” or “seller concessions” from the proceeds of the short sales. In reality, the mortgage lenders had never approved Loss Mitigation Services to receive those fees. When the short sales closed, at the instruction of Tavarez or Mulvihill, or others working with them, settlement agents paid Loss Mitigation Services the fees, which typically were 3% of the short sale price above and beyond any fees to real estate agents, closing attorneys and others involved in the transaction. To deceive mortgage lenders about the true nature of the fees, Tavarez or Mulvihill filed, or caused others to file, false short sale transaction documents with mortgage lenders, including altered settlement statements and fabricated contracts and mortgage loan preapproval letters. Tavarez and Mulvihill fabricated the transaction documents, or caused them to be fabricated, in order to justify the additional fees and conceal that they were being paid to Loss Mitigation Services. In addition, Tavarez created, or directed others to create, fake letters from mortgage brokers claiming that the brokers had approved buyers for financing, in order to convince mortgage lenders to approve the additional fees. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Gabriel+T.+Tavarez

The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss. The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year sentence that must run consecutively to any other sentence imposed, one year of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Tavarez is scheduled for sentencing on October 7, 2020.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Robert Manchak, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Region; Christina  Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Regional Office; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara Miron Bloom and Brian M. LaMacchia of Lelling’s Office are prosecuting the case.

Tina Brown, 45, Bronx, New York, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution, was sentenced today to six months home detention.

Between about June 2008 and February 2009, the defendant conspired with others to devise a scheme to commit mortgage fraud and obtain eight loans for unqualified borrowers for homes in the Bronx, New York. As part of the scheme, Brown used a relative to purchase a property located at 4087 Edson Avenue, Bronx, New York. The defendant falsely verified that the purchaser worked for her own company in order fraudulently to inflate the purchaser’s income so that she would qualify for a mortgage for that property. Brown knew that these false loan documents were submitted to The Funding Source, a mortgage bank, in order to secure a loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration. Based on that false application and supporting documentation, the loan was approved. The Funding Source sold the loan on the secondary market to M &T Bank, which wired funds from New York through the State of Ohio to purchase the loan.

The defendant and her co-conspirators arranged for additional fraudulent loans to be approved. These fraudulent transactions caused losses of approximately $244,000 to M&T Bank, Citibank, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Four co-defendants were previously convicted and sentenced: Gregory Gibbons, a mortgage broker, was sentenced to time served; Laurence Savedoff, an attorney, was sentenced to serve four months in prison; Julio Rodriguez, an appraiser, was sentenced to serve six months in prison; and Daniel Badu, a borrower, was sentenced to time served. Defendant Alagi Samba has been convicted and is awaiting sentencing.

The defendant was also ordered to pay restitution totaling $220,042.17 to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Citibank.

U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. made the announcement.

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin, Boston Division, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brad Geary, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert.

Isaac DePaula, 40, Brazil, was arrested this morning for his role in a long-running mortgage fraud scheme based in New Jersey.

DePaula was charged by complaint in 2012, indicted in 2016, and has been a fugitive. He returned via Newark Liberty International Airport this morning to face a four-count indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and three counts of bank fraud.

According to documents filed in this and other cases and statements made in court:

From September 2006 to May 2008, DePaula and his conspirators engaged in a long-running, large-scale mortgage fraud conspiracy through a company called Premier Mortgage Services (PMS). The conspirators targeted properties in low-income areas of New Jersey. After recruiting straw buyers, the conspirators used a variety of fraudulent documents to make it appear as though the straw buyers possessed far more assets, and earned far more income, than they actually did. The conspirators then submitted these fraudulent documents as part of mortgage loan applications to financial institutions. Relying on these fraudulent documents, financial institutions provided mortgage loans for the targeted properties. The conspirators then split the proceeds from the mortgages among themselves and others by using fraudulent settlement statements (HUD-1), which hid the true sources and destinations of the mortgage funds provided by financial institutions. In reality, the straw buyers had no means of paying the mortgages on the properties, many of which entered into foreclosure proceedings.

DePaula was a loan officer at PMS and recruited straw buyers, provided false and fraudulent documents to the straw buyers, and incorporated false and fraudulent documents into loan applications to induce financial institutions to fund mortgage loans. The loan officers profited illegally by receiving a commission from PMS for each mortgage loan that they closed, and also profited illegally by diverting portions of the fraudulently obtained mortgage proceeds for themselves, often via shell corporations or nominee bank accounts.

DePaula faces a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million per count. His co-defendant, Rodrigo Costa, remains at large. All of the remaining conspirators have previously pleaded guilty and been sentenced for their roles in the scheme.

DePaula made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III in Newark federal court and was released on his own recognizance.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito made the announcement.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie; special agents of the IRS, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur; and special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert Manchak, for the investigation leading to today’s arrest.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Agarwal and Zach Intrater.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Defense counsel: Joshua Cohn Esq., Saddle Brook, New Jersey

 

Anthony T. Williams, 48, Nashville, Tennessee was found guilty yesterday of 32 counts of wire and mail fraud in connection with fraudulent mortgage debt reduction scheme.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Williams marketed a fraudulent mortgage debt reduction scheme to distressed homeowners, who were mostly non-native English speakers in the Filipino immigrant community in Hawaii. Williams created two companies, Mortgage Enterprise Investments (MEI) and Common Law Office of America (CLOA), neither of which was licensed to service or modify mortgages. Through MEI, Williams made conflicting promises to clients that he could eliminate their existing mortgage obligations to their lenders, or reduce their mortgage obligations by half. Through CLOA, Williams promised legal representation in mortgage-related litigation and foreclosure proceedings. To give himself the appearance of credibility, Williams told prospective clients he was a “private attorney general” and brandished an official-looking law enforcement badge and credentials, despite not having a law license or any affiliation with law enforcement.

The evidence at trial demonstrated that Williams falsely promised victims that he could eliminate their existing home mortgage obligations by filing bogus documents with the Hawaii Bureau of Conveyances. These documents included new MEI mortgages and notes obligating homeowners to make monthly payments to MEI. Williams then advised homeowners to stop making their mortgage payments to their lenders and to pay him instead.

The government presented evidence that between 2012 and 2015,Williams enlisted 112 victims in Hawaii into his MEI program and fraudulently obtained over $218,000. Furthermore, several victims testified at trial that they relied upon Williams’s representations and went into foreclosure as a result of the MEI program and lost their homes.

The verdict followed a four-week trial before United States District Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi. Sentencing is scheduled for June 24, 2020

The investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth M. Sorenson and Gregg Paris Yates handled the prosecution.

Ruben Rodriguez, 43, and Jaime Mayorga, 41, both of Sacramento, California were convicted and were sentenced, yesterday, each to two years in prison for conspiring to commit wire fraud at a jury trial in April 2019.

According to court documents, between October 2004 and May 2007, Rodriguez and Mayorga were employees of Delta Homes and Lending Inc., a now-defunct Sacramento-based real estate and mortgage lending company that was founded by co-defendant Moctezuma “Mo” Tovar, 50, Sacramento, California. Rodriguez, Mayorga, Tovar, and other Delta Homes employees and co-defendants Manuel Herrera, Davis, California, Sandra Hermosillo, 57, Woodland, California,  Jun Michael Dirain, 47, Antelope, California and Christian Parada Renteria, 43, formerly of Sacramento, California agreed to commit fraud to obtain home loans from mortgage lenders. As part of the scheme, Rodriguez and Mayorga submitted fraudulent mortgage loan applications and supporting documents, which falsely represented the borrowers’ assets and income, liabilities and debts, employment status, citizenship status, and intent to occupy the property. Rodriguez and Mayorga also provided money to the borrowers in order to inflate their bank account balances. Once the loans were secured, the borrowers returned the money. The aggregate sales price of the homes involved in the overall conspiracy was in excess of $10 million. As a result of the conspiracy, mortgage lenders and others suffered losses of at least $4 million. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=delta+home+%26+Lending

Tovar was sentenced to 4 ½ years in prison. Herrera was sentenced to one year in prison. Dirain was sentenced to six months in prison, followed by six months of home detention. Hermosillo, was sentenced to nine months of home detention. Parada Renteria pleaded guilty to two counts of concealing felonies related to the wire fraud conspiracy, and was previously sentenced to serve 1 year in prison.

Attorney McGregor W. Scott made the announcement.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian A. Fogerty and Justin L. Lee prosecuted the case.

 

Jack V. Smalley, 70, Colorado Springs, Colorado was found guilty for bank fraud related to a mortgage application with the Navy Federal Credit Union.

On June 25, 2015, Smalley submitted a mortgage loan application with the Navy Federal Credit Union indicating that he earned a salary of approximately $200,000 dollars a year.  At the time, Smalley knew that wasn’t true.  In conducting its due diligence, the Navy Federal Credit Union requested a pay stub that would show Smalley’s monthly income, a letter from his employer to verify his employment and salary, and a bank statement to show Smalley’s income deposited into his bank account.

Smalley took steps to falsify the requested information, including falsifying a pay stub and his employment letter.  Based on the fraudulent documents, the Navy Federal Credit Union approved Smalley for a $998,000 loan.  Smalley defaulted on that loan in 2017.   In trying to mitigate his loan, Smalley provided two more fraudulent employment letters in 2018 and 2019.   Smalley used the proceeds of the loan to purchase a $1.1 million dollar residence in Colorado Springs, Colorado.   As part of the proceedings in this case, the Court ruled that the residence is subject to forfeiture based on the bank fraud.

United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn made the announcement.  The Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigations, and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations join in this announcement.

Lying to get a home loan is fraud, and the guilty verdict by the jury who heard this case made that perfectly clear,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn.  “Thanks to the hard work of our office and the law enforcement agents investigating this case, Smalley is now a convicted felon facing prison time.”

Smalley is scheduled to be sentenced on April 27, 2020.   The case was investigated by the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigations and Air Force Office of Criminal Investigations.  The trial was before U.S. District Court Judge Daniel D. Domenico.  The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Sibert.