Archives For Wisconsin

Aston Wood, 56, New Richmond, Wisconsin and Miami, Florida, was sentenced today to 12 years in federal prison for a mortgage rescue scheme that defrauded more than 70 Wisconsin homeowners.

Between 2014 and 2019, Wood defrauded more than 70 Wisconsin homeowners out of approximately $390,000.  Many homeowners unfortunately lost their homes in connection with the scheme.  Using the names ASC Financial, LLC and Maywood Capital II, LLC, Wood solicited people facing the possibility of foreclosure and represented to them that he could help them stay in their home by obtaining loan refinancing or modification.  He told customers that to stop foreclosures, they needed to immediately begin making mortgage payments towards a new loan as part of a trial period while he worked out the details of the loan with the mortgage lenders.  Wood instructed customers to make these mortgage payments to businesses he controlled under the premise that he would forward the payments to the customers’ mortgage lenders.

Wood was able to collect mortgage payments from homeowners for months, even years, by falsely reassuring them that their payments were going to their mortgage lenders and that new loans were being finalized.  In fact, Wood’s bank records confirmed he deposited the customers’ mortgage payments and spent their money on his own travel and living expenses.  When customers eventually lost their homes in foreclosure, Wood told them that it was due to the mortgage lenders’ greed or negligence.

Wood defrauded some homeowners out of additional money even after they lost their homes by falsely telling them that he would use the money to help them buy back their foreclosed property or use the money to sue the mortgage companies.

As part of his fraud scheme, Wood advised many customers to file bankruptcy in the Western District of Wisconsin.  The automatic stay triggered by the bankruptcy filings temporarily stalled the foreclosures, which extended the time in which Wood could collect the monthly mortgage payments.  In November 2016, the U.S. Trustee’s Office began investigating Wood and in October 2017, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Catherine J. Furay issued an injunction permanently barring Wood from soliciting, offering to perform, or performing services relating to mortgage foreclosure and debt relief.  Despite the court order, however, Wood continued to engage in mortgage rescue fraud under a new business name.

Wood pleaded guilty to wire fraud and bankruptcy fraud on January 6, 2020.

Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, made the announcement.

U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson handed down the sentence.

At the sentencing, Judge Peterson called the defendant a professional conman, said that this was “a particularly heartless crime,” and told the defendant that his crime “stands apart from anything I’ve come across in my six years on the bench.”

U.S. Attorney Blader praised the work of the U.S. Trustee’s Office and the law enforcement agents who investigated the criminal case.  U.S. Attorney Blader also urged Wisconsin residents to be alert to this type of fraud.

U.S. Attorney Blader was joined in making the announcement by Robert E. Hughes, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Milwaukee Field Office; Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Office of IRS Criminal Investigation; Catherine Huber, Special Agent in Charge, Central Region, Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General; and Patrick S. Layng, United States Trustee for Region 11.

The following are tips to avoid being a victim of mortgage fraud schemes from the U.S. Department of Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development:

  • Beware of anyone seeking to charge you in advance for mortgage modification services.  In most cases, charging fees in advance of a mortgage modification is illegal.
  • Only your mortgage company has the discretion to grant a loan modification. Therefore, no third party can guarantee or pre-approve your mortgage modification application.
  • Beware of individuals and companies claiming that your payments should be sent to an alternate contact or address that is different from the information in your mortgage statement.
  • Beware of individuals or companies that offer money-back guarantees or insist on upfront fees and can only accept payment by cash, cashier’s check, or wire transfer.
  • Beware of private individuals claiming to be affiliated with government-backed refinancing programs.

For additional information, see

The charges against Wood were the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, IRS Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the Office of the United States Trustee.  The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith P. Duchemin.


Aston Wood, 55, New Richmond, Wisconsin, has been charged today with four counts related to an alleged mortgage fraud scheme.

The indictment charges that Wood engaged in a scheme to defraud from September 2015 to July 2019.  He is charged with one count of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, one count of bankruptcy fraud, and one count of criminal contempt of court.

The indictment alleges that Wood represented to owners of homes in foreclosure that he could help them stay in their home by obtaining refinancing or modification of their mortgage, and that he instructed customers to make monthly mortgage payments towards a new or modified loan in an amount he selected, payable to him or to a limited liability company of which he was the sole member.  The indictment alleges that rather than remit the payments to lenders as promised, Wood instead deposited the payments in bank accounts he controlled and used the funds for his own personal expenses.

The indictment further alleges that Wood offered to help some customers buy back their foreclosed property, and he continued to solicit and receive funds from customers or their families based on false representations that the funds would be used to repurchase the property.   In addition, the indictment alleges that Wood told some customers to file for bankruptcy to stall foreclosure proceedings, which allowed Wood to delay detection and continue collecting monthly mortgage payments from customers.

The fourth count of the indictment alleges that Wood disobeyed a lawful order of a Court of the United States, an injunction issued on October 24, 2017, by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Catherine J. Furay in the Western District of Wisconsin, which permanently enjoined Wood from soliciting customers, offering to perform, and performing services related to mortgage foreclosure and debt relief.

If convicted, Wood faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on both the wire fraud charge and the mail fraud charge, and five years on the bankruptcy fraud charge.  The criminal contempt of court charge has no maximum penalty; the penalty is at the Court’s discretion.

You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The charges against Wood are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, IRS Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office acknowledges the assistance of the Office of the U.S. Trustee.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith Duchemin is handling the prosecution.


Christian Peterson, 45, Madison, Wisconsin, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Barbara B. Crabb to seven years in federal prison following his convictions for bank fraud, money laundering, and making false statements to banks. Peterson was previously convicted of lying about the purpose of a $1.1 million loan for real estate development.

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Todd A. Brunner, 57, and Shawn A. Brunner, 24, both of Pewaukee, Wisconsin, are the subjects of a sixteen count indictment charging them with bank fraud, making false declarations and oaths, and concealing assets, including real estate in bankruptcy.

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David E. Robert, 42, Madison, Wisconsin, was sentenced on June 12, 2014, by U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb to six months in federal prison, a $1,000 fine, and two years of supervised release for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme wherein he used a falsified tax documents to obtain a first and second mortgage.

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Jay Fischer was found guilty by Marathon County, Wisconsin, Judge Gregory Huber of a million dollar mortgage fraud scheme wherein he failed to pay off prior mortgages, resulting in dual active mortgages on homes.

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Chester D. Howard, also known as C. Daniel Howard, 41, Verona, Wisconsin, is charged in a seven-count indictment with making false statements. He is charged with five counts of falsely stating to banks that he was the owner of property as collateral for a loan, when he knew he was not the owner of the property.

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James Scalzo, 46, Kenosha, Wisconsin, was sentenced by Judge Lynn Adelman to 35 months in prison for his role in a bank fraud and money laundering scheme.

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Michael E. Kraus, 63, Medford, Wisconsin, has been indicted by a federal grand jury sitting in Madison, Wisconsin, and charged with making false statements to financial institutions concerning the extent of his liabilities.

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Becky Lynn Ring, formerly known as Becky Lynn Stoltenberg, 38, Madison, Wisconsin, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb to 12 months probation and ordered to pay $336,100 in restitution for her role in a mortgage fraud scheme.

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