July 3rd, 2015 at 5:13am
Once honored as an Atascadero “Citizen of the Year,” real estate developer Kelly Gearhart, 53, was sentenced to the maximum 14 years in prison for defrauding investors who lost over $15 million on his development projects.
Federal Los Angeles Judge Otis Wright imposed a harsher sentence than the government had requested for Gearhart, who pleaded guilty last year to wire fraud and money laundering. The judge noted that many were elderly investors who had lost everything due to Gearhart’s “sheer greed.”
In his plea agreement with prosecutors, Gearhart admitted selling the same lots to multiple investors doing the same to get bank financing.
Read the original story in the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
May 22nd, 2015 at 8:54am
A Modesto who pleaded guilty to stealing over $1 million from investors in California and Texas has been arrested and charged with two felony counts of grand theft.
In the newest case, Xue Heu, 37, is accused of using the same tactics to scam another victim out of $6,000.
“Xue Heu defies the court order and continues to defraud victims,” wrote Glenn Gulley, an investigator with the district attorney’s real estate fraud unit in a document filed in Stanislaus Superior Court.
May 22nd, 2015 at 7:55am
Former fighting champion Chuck Liddell is suing Cuesta Title Company, Stewart Title of California and Stewart Title Guaranty for the losses he suffered in the failed $24 million golf course development known as Vista del Hombre.
Liddell’s friend Kelly Gearhart, the developer of the project and a former Atascadero Citizen of the Year, is awaiting sentencing on federal fraud charges June 1. Because he filed bankruptcy, 500 of the investors are suing the title companies, claiming they were part of Gearhart’s Ponzi scheme.
Defense counsel for Cuesta Title is claiming that it knew nothing about the fraud or Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Gearhart and that it did its job as an escrow company.
Read the original article in The Tribune.
Note: there are many earlier articles about Kelly Gearhart, which you can find by searching this blog.
April 23rd, 2015 at 3:14pm
Sixty-year-old Benny Chetcuti Jr. has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for operating a real estate investment fraud scheme. He must also pay over $21.8 million in restitution for the losses he caused.
Chetcuti convinced investors to loan money to his firm, Chetcuti & Associates, telling them their investments were backed by properties. Although the firm’s business was to buy, renovate and re-sell homes (“flipping”), he did so by forging deeds purportedly written by lenders and title company officers.
Read the original article in the Contra Costa Times and the office of U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.
April 22nd, 2015 at 7:26am
Modesto resident Kenneth Manuel Martin, 66, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.
According to the offices of United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner, Martin convinced individuals to invest money with him, telling them their monies would be used to fund mortgage loans to home buyers in Guatemala. Their investments were to be secured by grant deeds secured by Guatemalan real estate. The inducement was high interest rates of return.
This case was investigated jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorneys Henry Z. Carbajal III and Grant B. Rabenn are prosecuting the case.
Read the original article in the Imperial Valley News.
April 22nd, 2015 at 7:11am
The law has caught up with Ralph Leyva, 62, who just pleaded guilty to fraud and will be sentenced to four years in prison.
Leyva defrauded investors out of $350,000 in 2011 whom he conned into buying six properties in San Diego through a company called California REO Services LLC.
A Modesto man who swindled at least $350,000 from real estate investors pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraud charges in exchange for a four-year prison sentence.
Leyva, who used the aliases of George Anderson and Andrew Taylor, was investigated by the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office real estate fraud unit in cooperation with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees fraud claims involving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Read the original article in the Modesto Bee.
April 8th, 2015 at 8:33am
A Marin County, California, mortgage broker pleaded guilty last month to 14 federal counts related to a $2.4 million scheme to defraud investors.
Paul Sloane Davis, a 75-year old mortgage broker, pleaded guilty in March to 14 federal counts in relation to a $2.4 million real estate investment fraud.
Davis operated D.M. Financial along with Diane Cobb, 57, who pleaded guilty in July 2014. U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said the pair diverted investor funds for their own use or to make interest payments to prior investors (Ponzi schemes). The investment opportunity was to provide short-term financing to borrowers for their real estate transactions.
Read the original article in Inman.com
March 31st, 2015 at 3:27pm
According to an article in the Modesto Bee, Xue Heu, 38, who conned over $1.26 million from investors in California and Texas, pleaded guilty on Monday to two counts of wire fraud.
Heu and Thomas Dickey Price, 72, posed as representatives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who were selling foreclosed homes through their companies Liquid Assets & Land Investments Inc. and Capital Land Investments LLC. The homes had already been sold but the pair used forged deeds (title fraud) and other fraudulent documents in order to fool their victims.
Heu used the alias Michael Chan and Price used the names Albert Martin and Matt Taylor.
A third conspirator, Carla Lee Miller, signed a plea arrangement earlier this month.
Xue Heu will be sentenced in June in Fresno. If he pays restitution to his victims of $403,469 he could receive less than the 20 year sentence for which he is eligible.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the ace team at the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office real estate fraud unit.
Read a copy of the plea agreement Xue Heu made with the Office of U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner.
March 26th, 2015 at 7:51am
The office of United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced that Joyce Esther De Armero was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison and ordered to pay restitution for mail fraud in a real estate investment fraud case.
De Armero, 37, pleaded guilty on December 4, 2014, to mail fraud and admitted that she conned investors into giving her money to invest in high-interest real estate loans with guaranteed returns between July 2008 and January 2010. She confessed that she made no investments but spent the money on herself, other than using some of the funds from the later investors to re-pay the earlier ones, in order to keep her Ponzi scheme operating.
Read the original article in the Imperial Valley News.
March 13th, 2015 at 8:27am
The Office of U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner has announced that Anatoliy Azarov, 33, of Sacramento, has pleaded guilty to mail fraud in regard to a mortgage fraud scheme involving 24 residential properties.
Azarov and a co-conspirator, Vadim Vilchitsa, 32, had a business beginning in 2007 that solicited funds from investors to buy, renovate and flip residential properties. According to court documents the men convinced the investors to purchase the properties at inflated prices; they used the overage as working capital.
Prosecutors say that they helped the investors purchase properties through Yevgeniy Zazhitskiy, 39, a licensed real estate broker who worked as a loan officer.
Both Vadim Vilchitsa and Yevgeniy Zazhitskiy have already pleaded guilty in this case and have received sentences of 15 and 20 months in prison, respectively.
Read the original article in the Central Valley Business Times.