September 12th, 2012 at 7:40am
Deon L. Jackson, 38, a loan officer who pleaded guilty in a mortgage fraud conspiracy in the South Bay region of Southern California, has been sentenced to one year in federal prison.
Four others who pleaded guilty already received their sentences, as follows:
– Anthony Lewis, 57 months. Lewis found the homes for sale and submitted fraudulent loan applications to Jackson and Jennifer Le on behalf of straw buyers
– Jennifer Le, probation
– Matthew Balsz, a former South Bay U.S. Bank employee from the South Bay, charged with accepting bribes, probation
– Freddy Lentz, formerly of Bank of America, charged with accepting bribes, probation
Maria Arriaza, a former escrow officer at Diamond Clear Escrow in Granada Hills, went to trial and received a sentence of 40 month for preparing phony settlement statements (escrow fraud) and for disbursing funds according to Anthony Lewis’ instructions.
All told, lending institutions were defrauded out of $3 million.
There are several previous postings about this case and the defendants in the California Real Estate Fraud Report. Use the search button on the left-hand sidebar to locate them.
Read the original article in the Long Beach Press Telegram.
September 6th, 2012 at 9:42pm
In a novel and very creative form of real estate fraud, a woman out on bail for felony charges who was wearing an electronic monitoring anklet was arrested a second time on charges of elder theft, forgery of deed documents, recording false instruments and grand theft.
Mai Vu, 53, was arraigned today after a Campbell police investigator traced her following a report by an elderly couple that somebody had forged real estate documents (probably a grant deed) that transferred title out of their names (title fraud). In the meantime, investigators with a different agency – the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office - found an elderly Milpitas couple had also had their property transferred to Vu. She defrauded an investor out of $250,000 (loan fraud) when she used the Milpitas home as collateral in order to secure the loan, then transferred title back to the lawful owners (title fraud).
Mai Vu’s first run-in with the law occurred in August 2011, when she was charged with defrauding four victims and had her bail set at $10 million.
Investigators may be reached at 408-808-3787.
Read the original article in the Mercury News.
September 6th, 2012 at 5:56pm
An actor and a certified tax preparer have each pleaded guilty to conspiracy in a mortgage fraud scheme that allowed the actor, Tommy Lister, to acquire title to four homes by falsifying income and bank statements.
Lister, 54, who could not afford the homes and who unsurprisingly lost them to foreclosure, is alleged to have used the services of Arcelia Chavez, 48, who he stated supplied him with a false W-2, false pay stub and a false CPA statement so that he could get one of the mortgages and a HELOC (home equity line of credit). He admitted that in addition to misrepresenting his financial status to the lenders that he neglected to inform the lenders that he would be receiving kickbacks from the sellers after escrow closed.
The court documents charge that the scheme operated from November 2005 through June 2007.
Sami Sager Sweiss, previously a Woodland Hills-based mortgage loan officer, pleaded guilty this July to one conspiracy count before United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer. He was later sentenced to 33 months in prison and three years of supervised release.
Read the press release on FBI.gov.
August 31st, 2012 at 10:14am
An attorney failed to convince a federal judge that his client should serve less time in prison because he suffered from “brain damage, bipolar disorder and “mild” schizophrenia” and committed his crimes on the advice of “aliens and spirits.”
David Papera had pleaded guilty to defrauding Washington Mutual, aka WaMu, (mortgage fraud, loan fraud) by submitting millions of dollars in loan applications from straw buyers, who were to purchase parcels near Lake Hennessey in Napa from the Sage Creek Ranch, LLC development company that Papera owned with his Michael Ohayon.
Last April, Papera pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering and despite his attorney Steven Gruel’s pleas, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer to 70 months in prison. Michael Ohayon, who in May pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud and money laundering, was sentenced to 60 months. Both men were ordered by Judge Breyer to pay $10.5 million in restitution to Chase Home Finance, Washington Mutual’s successor.
The investigation was conducted jointly by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI.
Read the original article in the Napa Valley Register.
August 30th, 2012 at 6:49pm
Henrik Sardariani, 44, a Glendale resident accused of scamming banks and individuals out of millions in a loan fraud scheme, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. His co-conspirator and brother Hamlet Sardariani, 42, of Sylmar, will be sentenced next month for the same crimes.
Both brothers pleaded guilty to felony counts of wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering in the court of U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips, who ordered Henrik Sardariani to pay $5.4 million in restitution to his victims, along with a $100,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ranee Katzenstein termed the con “sophisticated and complex” and involved Henrik Sardariani creating phony government documents and fraudulent real estate documents that he authenticated by cutting and pasting notarizations (notary fraud). Sardariani secured his loans – which he admitted he had no intention of repaying – using his homes on Paseo Redondo in Burbank and on Maginn Drive in Glendale as collateral.
Wanda Tenney, an escrow officer, helped Sardariani avoid paying one of his loans back by helping him wire almost $2 million to a Hong Kong account (escrow fraud). Tenney pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and will be sentenced in October.
You can find an earlier article about the prosecution of Henrik Sardariani and Hamlet Sardariani by using the search window on the left-side or clicking on this link of the California Real Estate Fraud Report.
Read the original article for this post on the Glendale News Press.
August 24th, 2012 at 9:01am
A real estate agent who worked for Century 21 Su Casa in San Jose is sitting in jail on a $1 million bail after a jury found her guilty of stealing the identity of one man to purchase a home for another.
Julissa Gill, 34, had been charged with eight felony counts of grand theft, forgery and identity theft and was prosecuted in Santa Clara County Superior Court in front of Judge Jacqueline Arroyo. The jury that convicted Gill found that in 2007 she had used the name, birth date and social security number of Jose Valdez, a San Leandro man, in order to complete the purchase of a home in San Jose for Eddy Niquen. Niquen, who ultimately lost the property to foreclosure, was apparently unaware of Gill’s manipulation of Valdez’ identity.
David Lim, a deputy district attorney with the Real Estate Fraud Unit from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, was the prosecutor.
Julissa Gill’s license as a real estate salesperson shows no disciplinary action from the California Department of Real Estate as of the date of this post. However, the license of Century 21 Su Casa’s designated broker, Bic Pho, was revoked in 2011. See the earlier post about Bic Pho in the California Real Estate Fraud Report.
Read the original article in the Silicon Valley Mercury News.
August 17th, 2012 at 7:41am
The man at the center of a mortgage fraud conspiracy in which $21 million in fraudulent loans were underwritten is going to prison, along with one of his co-conspirators.
Garret Griffith Gililland, 31, formerly of Chico and Paradise, who is believed to have caused lenders more than $4 million in losses, was sentenced to seven years and 10 months, with three years supervised release for mail fraud and money laundering in United States District Court in Sacramento. Shane Burreson, 39, of Orland received a sentence of 23 months in prison and three years supervised release.
According to a press release from the Department of Justice, from 2006-2008 Garret Gililland operated a mortgage fraud scam that included using straw buyers with falsified income and employment information, to purchase 46 homes in Chico subdivisions. Homebuilders kicked back $40,000-$60,000 kickbacks per property after close of escrow to store-fronts run by Gililland and Burreson.
Builder Tony Symmes was sentenced several months ago to two years and 11 months in federal prison for money laundering and he forfeited $4 million. He became an informant and helped prosecutors ensnare the other defendants.
Chico developer William Baker, 66, who received three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to mail fraud.
Kesha Danine Fortune Haynie, 41, a Chico loan broker who facilitated the processing of fraudulent loans, was convicted of mail fraud and remains to be sentenced. As of this posting, her license with the California Department of Real Estate is still in good standing.
There are numerous articles on these defendants and their conspiracy that can be found on the California Real Estate Fraud Report by using the search feature on the left-side panel.
Read the original article in the Chico Enterprise Record.
August 2nd, 2012 at 5:08pm
A woman and her daughters are going to serve hard time for defrauding lenders in a mortgage fraud scheme according to the Orange County District Attorney.
Sushama Devi Lohia, 74, of Newport Beach, pleaded guilty last December to tax evasion, conspiracy and other fraud crimes (70 felonies) and received an eight year sentence.
Now daughter Suniti Shah, 51, of Newport Coast, has received eight years for 40 similar counts. Number One daughter Supriti Soni, 52, of Corona del Mar, will serve 10 years after pleading guilty to 40 counts as well.
Suniti Shah’s husband, Dinesh Valjeebhai Shah, 62, is awaiting trial for his role in the conspiracy.
What did the three criminals and one remaining defendant allegedly do?
They procured 15 loans from Washington Mutual (WAMU), all through the use of straw buyers and their credit (loan fraud). The straw buyers’ incomes were inflated, their bank statements altered and employment information was falsified. Oh, and their signatures were forged. The loss due to the mortgage fraud was $16 million.
Read the original article in the OC Register.
July 26th, 2012 at 11:31am
U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that brothers Ali Khalil, 32, Amanullah Khalil, 39, and Wahidullah Khalil, 27, have all pleaded guilty to various financial crimes related to mortgage fraud.
Ironically (or not), Ali Khalil was formerly a police officer in Elk Grove and earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud and structuring financial transactions to evade currency transaction reporting requirements (the $10,000 limit that triggers reporting requirements.
Amanullah Khalil pleaded guilty to making false statements on a loan application (loan fraud, mortgage fraud).
Wahidullah Khalil was previously in banking and holds a bachelor degree in criminal justice. He pleaded guilty to structuring financial transactions to evade currency transaction reporting requirements, like Ali did.
Apparently all three defendants embarked on parallel paths of loan fraud and mortgage fraud in order to obtain loans. Each submitted loan applications with false information in order to each purchase or refinance homes. Each took the proceeds and made deposits of less than $10,000 on consecutive days in order to evade the bank reporting requirements. And each got caught.
U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell will pronounce their sentences in November.
Read the original article in the Sacramento Bee.
July 20th, 2012 at 10:16am
San Fernando Valley resident Anthony Lewis, 39, is going to have a new address, as he has been sentenced by U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez to 57 months in federal prison for his part in a $4 million mortgage fraud conspiracy. Judge Gutierrez also ordered Lewis to pay restitution of approximately $4.1 million.
Lewis was apparently the bird-dog who found houses for sale and gave phony loan applications to loan processors Jennifer Le, Matthew Balsz (formerly of US Bank) and Freddy Lentz (formerly of Bank of America). Balsz and Lentz were charged with accepting bribes to push the loan approval through underwriting. Deon Jackson, a mortgage broker from Gardena, helped Lewis correct loan applications so that they would qualify for funding.
Escrow officer Maria Arriaza of Diamond Clear Escrow in Granada Hills, has already been convicted for diverting funds intended for the home purchasers to the various conspirators.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Goorvitch.
Read the original article in the Daily News.