Archives For Florida

Marek Harrison, 56, Plant City, Florida, has been sentenced to 20 months in federal prison for his role in a bank fraud scheme.

According to court documents, between September 2007 and December 2008,

Harrison created and executed a mortgage fraud scheme involving Saratoga Resort Villas, a condominium conversion of a former hotel located in Kissimmee, Florida. Harrison’s scheme to defraud financial institutions involved kickbacks of mortgage proceeds to buyers and co-conspirators, as well as misrepresentations regarding the source of down payment funds for the transactions. None of the incentives and kickbacks were disclosed to the mortgage lenders. Harrison also recruited otherwise unqualified buyers, and he provided down payment money for the buyers. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Marek+Harrison

The court also ordered Harrison to pay $2,753,495.79 in restitution to the victim financial institutions.

Harrison had pleaded guilty on November 27, 2019.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

Tanya Firmani, 47, Jacksonville, Florida has been found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud and six counts of bankruptcy fraud.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Firmani conspired with others in a foreclosure rescue/bankruptcy fraud scheme. Firmani solicited homeowners whose mortgages were in default and offered to rescue their homes from foreclosure. To prevent the Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”), the Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”), and multiple financial institutions from lawfully foreclosing on homeowners’ properties, Firmani filed or caused the filing of fraudulent bankruptcy petitions in the homeowners’ names just prior to the scheduled foreclosure sale dates. The fraudulent bankruptcies triggered the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay provision, preventing Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, and the financial institutions from conducting foreclosure sales and obtaining the titles to the properties. The fraudulent bankruptcy petitions enabled Firmani to collect fees and allowed her co-conspirators to obtain ill-gotten commissions for short-sales causing losses to creditors.

Firmani faces a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment on each count. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 21, 2020.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General. The Office of United States Trustee for the Middle District of Florida provided substantial investigative assistance. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

 

Marek Harrison, 56, Plant City, Florida has pleaded guilty to bank fraud.

According to the plea agreement, between September 2007 and December 2008, Harrison created and executed a mortgage fraud scheme involving Saratoga Resort Villas, a condominium conversion of a former hotel located in Kissimmee, Florida.  Harrison’s scheme to defraud financial institutions involved kickbacks of mortgage proceeds to buyers and co-conspirators, as well as misrepresentations regarding the source of down payment funds for the transactions. None of the incentives and kickbacks were disclosed to the mortgage lenders. Harrison also recruited otherwise unqualified buyers, and provided down payment money for the buyers.  http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Marek+Harrison

Harrison faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

 

Mordechai Boaziz, 68, Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Jonathan Marmol,41, Odessa, Florida have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make false statements to financial institutions.

According to their plea agreements, beginning around the summer of 2006 and continuing through August 2008, Boaziz and Marmol conspired with others to execute a scheme to influence the credit decisions of financial institutions in connection with the sale of condominium units at The Preserve at Temple Terrace, a 392-unit condominium complex. Boaziz was converting The Preserve from an apartment complex into a condominium complex and hired Marmol to market the units.

In order to recruit and entice otherwise unqualified buyers to purchase units at The Preserve, the conspirators offered to pay the prospective buyers’ down payments (“cash-to-close”). The conspirators then intentionally concealed from the financial institutions the cash-to-close payments made on behalf of the buyers.

In particular, the HUD-1 Settlement Statements submitted to the financial institutions falsely stated that the buyers brought their own cash-to-close funds to purchase the condominium units, which influenced the financial institutions’ mortgage loan approval decisions. In reality, Boaziz funded the buyers’ cash-to-close and routed the payments through Marmol and others. As a result of the conspiracy, the financial institutions that financed the condominium unit purchases at The Preserve sustained a total loss of approximately $5 million.

Each faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency–Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor and Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.

 

Brannon Rue, real estate agent, 47, Oviedo, Florida, pleaded guilty to making a false statement to a financial institution. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to the plea agreement, Rue executed a scheme to influence financial institutions to approve short sales of real estate at a loss by making false statements on various documents. In furtherance of his scheme, Rue formed and controlled Hatley Partners, which he used to mask his role as the true purchaser of short-sale properties and to profit from the subsequent sale of the properties. Continue Reading…

Ocwen Financial Corporation is a national provider of loan servicing for lenders. It is headquartered in Florida and has offices in several states. In its Consent Agreement with Maine’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection and Attorney General, Ocwen admitted that after July 2014 it pursued foreclosures against Maine homeowners based on paperwork which the State found to be legally defective.

Specifically, Ocwen used “powers of attorney” granted by corporate originators of the mortgages, but those corporate originators of the mortgages had been legally dissolved – had ceased to exist – no later than March 2012. The State alleges that the powers of attorney terminated when the granting corporations dissolved.

Under the Consent Agreement, the State found that Ocwen’s use of the powers of attorneys from legally nonexistent entities violated a statute prohibiting “false, deceptive or misleading representation or means in the collection of any debt.”

Ocwen’s illegal filings continued into January of 2019, even after Ocwen’s lawyers had assured State regulators in November 2018 that the practice would stop. The company termed the additional filings as “inadvertent.”

Ocwen Financial Corporation will refund or credit 24 Maine residents more than $50,000 in attorney’s fees they were assessed when their homes were foreclosed upon, and the company will pay $24,000 in civil penalties and $10,000 in investigative costs to the State of Maine, as part of a Consent Agreement signed last week.

Maine’s Supreme Court has made clear that lenders must establish that they have the legal right to pursue foreclosures,” said Will Lund, Superintendent of the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection. “Those requirements were not followed in these cases.”

Attorney General Aaron M. Frey, whose office assisted state mortgage regulators in negotiating and resolving the matter, stated, “The Consent Agreement puts Ocwen – and other national mortgage lenders and servicers – on notice that they must follow the legal standards here in Maine if they pursue actions on defaulted mortgages.”

The Consent Agreement may have ramifications beyond Ocwen, noted Superintendent Lund, since other lenders may be filing foreclosures based on similar powers of attorney issued by the same nonexistent corporate loan originators used by Ocwen.

 

Christopher Coburn, 34, Winter Garden, Florida has been found guilty of five counts of bankruptcy fraud and two counts of falsification of records in a bankruptcy proceeding.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Coburn solicited homeowners whose mortgages were in default and offered to rescue their homes from foreclosure. In order to prevent the Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”) and multiple financial institutions holding mortgages from lawfully foreclosing on homeowners’ properties, Coburn engaged a bankruptcy fraud scheme in which he filed or caused to be filed fraudulent bankruptcy petitions in the name of the homeowner, without homeowner’s knowledge or consent, just prior to the scheduled foreclosure sale dates. These fraudulent bankruptcies invoked the automatic stay provision of the bankruptcy code, preventing Fannie Mae and the financial institutions from conducting lawful foreclosure sales and obtaining title to the property. The fraudulent bankruptcy petitions filed by Coburn enabled him to collect fees and allowed him to refer the properties to real estate agents in order to obtain ill-gotten commissions for short-sales. Coburn also filed other false and fraudulent bankruptcy forms in the names of some homeowners relied on by the Office of the United States Trustee and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Christopher+Coburn

Coburn faces a maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment for each bankruptcy fraud count and up to 20 years in prison for each falsification of records count. His sentencing hearing has been scheduled for September 9, 2019.

United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency—Office of Inspector General, with substantial assistance from the Office of the United States Trustee for the Middle District of Florida. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

George French Jones, Jr., 50, Santa Monica, California, was sentenced to 116 months in prison today after previously pleading guilty to mail fraud and identity theft charges in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme involving two waterfront residential properties in Broward County, Florida.

According to information disclosed in open court, in early 2018 Jones identified two residential properties in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which Jones fraudulently pledged as collateral in order to obtain mortgage loans from a private lender. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=George+French+Jones%2C+Jr

The two Broward County properties were owned by corporate entities that Jones had no affiliation with and which were in fact owned by independent third parties. To execute his fraudulent loan scheme, Jones created fake identification documents and email addresses in order to impersonate officers of the corporate owners of the two properties. Jones then submitted bogus loan applications and other documents to a private lender in which he pretended to be the owners of the Fort Lauderdale properties. As a result of this scheme, Jones defrauded the private lender out of approximately $1.7 million dollars.

Jones was also ordered to pay $1,824,581 in restitution.

Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) made the announcement.

U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of the FBI.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Browne.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Nalina Sombuntham is handling the asset forfeiture aspects of the prosecution.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

 

Geo Geovanni, 50, Moultrie, Georgia has been sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Geovanni worked as a real estate broker who owned his own brokerage firm based in Orlando, Florida. Between May and August 2008, Geovanni sold condominium units at The Landing, Altamonte Springs, Florida. Geovanni engaged in a conspiracy to conceal from mortgage lenders sales incentives that he provided to the buyers. These undisclosed incentives included making the buyers’ down payments and paying kickbacks after closing. As a result of his actions, Geovanni helped cause the loss of approximately $736,000 to the Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”), Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac), and JP Morgan Chase Bank when the mortgages involved in the fraudulent transactions went into foreclosure. http://www.mortgagefraudblog.com/?s=Geo+Geovanni

As part of his sentence, the court also entered a money judgment of $56,984.34, the proceeds of the fraud scheme. A federal jury found Geovanni guilty on November 29, 2018.

This case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorneys Chris Poor and Joseph Capone.

George French Jones, Jr., 50,  Santa Monica, California, pled guilty on December 21, 2018, to mail fraud and identity theft charges in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme involving two waterfront residential properties in Broward County, Florida.

According to information disclosed in open court, in early 2018 Jones identified two residential properties in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which Jones fraudulently pledged as collateral in order to obtain mortgage loans from a private lender.

The two properties were owned by corporate entities that Jones had no affiliation with and which were in fact owned by independent third parties. To execute his fraudulent loan scheme, Jones created fake identification documents and email addresses in order to impersonate officers of the corporate owners of the two properties. Jones then submitted bogus loan applications and other documents to a private lender in which he pretended to be the owners of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida properties. As a result of this scheme, Jones defrauded the private lender out of approximately $1.7 million dollars.

Jones pled guilty to one count of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A(a)(1). At sentencing, Jones faces a maximum possible sentence of 22 years in prison.  He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola on March 1, 2018, at 8:30 a.m.

Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) made the announcement.

U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of the FBI.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Browne. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nalina Sombuntham is handling the asset forfeiture aspects of the prosecution.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.