U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez stunned federal prosecutors and defense attorneys by ordering five defendants convicted in a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme last May to go free. Instead, the judge declared that none would go to prison and sentenced them to probation and months of wearing electronic ankle monitors as they return to their daily lives.
Set free were Daniil Markevich, his sister-in-law Irina; his brothers Alex Markevich and Anatoliy Markevich; and Marina Pukhkan, Irina Markevich’s mother. The five had spent the money they were paid for acting as straw buyers on luxury items, such as a Lincoln Navigator and a limousine.
They had faced lengthy prison sentences for their participation as straw buyers for homes they had purchased by submitting fraudulent documents in order to obtain loans.
The judge’s decision is a huge loss for the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California, which has made mortgage fraud prosecutions a priority.
Read the original article in the Sacramento Bee.