California Real Estate Fraud Report

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Archive for the 'Real Estate Investment Fraud' Category

Apartments America LLC Principals Charged with Fraud by SEC

May 17th, 2012 at 9:55am

The SEC has charged three men with running afoul of antifraud and securities registration provisions by running a real estate investment firm that promised annual returns of 60%.

Michael Stewart, John Packard and Randall Smith opened Apartments America LLC shortly after they closed Pacific Property Assets due to bankruptcy. The alleged purpose of both businesses was to pool investors’ funds from unregistered offerings of securities and use the money to purchase multi-family housing in Southern California and Arizona. Pacific Property Assets had defaulted on $91.6 million in promissory notes held by 647 investors and was being managed by a bankruptcy receiver and Apartments America LLC had no assets (real estate investment fraud). Investors to that failed venture had been promised rates of return of between 24% to 30%.

Read the original article in National Mortgage News.

Former Irvine Planning Commission Sentenced to 6+ Years

May 10th, 2012 at 3:44pm

David Richard Sparks, once a talented real estate investor and former Irvine Planning Commissioner who was prosecuted for bilking his friends and family, is going to prison.

Sparks brought investors into his business by promising to buy, rehabilitate and sell foreclosed or distressed homes, something he never did (real estate investment fraud). Instead, according to evidence presented, he used the money he obtained, sometimes from life-long friends, to cover his own speculative real estate losses in Utah and forged documents, created phony escrow companies (escrow fraud) and fabricated accountings. The victims testified at his sentencing that David Sparks’ criminal conduct cost them their marriages, retirement funds, savings, credit scores and homes.

Although his plea agreement with prosecutors called for less time, Judge Cormac J. Carney added “aggravating points” when sentencing Sparks by noting he had abused his position of trust and manipulated real estate documentation and transactions. Sparks’ sentence: six and a half years in federal prison.

David Sparks was also ordered by the court to repay $4.3 million to his victims.

Read the original article in the OC Register.

Katie Rose, Radio Show Host, Pleads Guilty to Real Estate Fraud

May 4th, 2012 at 9:37am

Kathryn “Katie” Rose, 62, who ran a local radio show in Ventura with co-host Kenneth A. Powell, pleaded guilty in one of the largest real estate fraud cases  prosecuted by the Ventura County District Attorney. She faces a sentence of 12 years for her crimes.

Kenneth Powell, 58, has already pleaded guilty to 15 similar white-collar felony counts and awaits a sentence of up to 18 years.

Ventura County Prosecutor Dominic Kardum said that Powell, Rose and Paul Charles Lascola, 69, ripped off 15 investors for more than $3 million. Kardum and co-prosecutor Miles Weiss say the money they stole has completely vanished.

Kenneth Powell and Katie Rose hosted the “Ken and Katie” radio program that featured infomercials such as “Academy of Real Estate” and “Money Intelligence” on KVTA-AM 1520. This is where they attracted the investors who ultimately became victims.

Read the original article on the Ventura County Star.

Orange County Residents Indicted in REO Fraud

April 26th, 2012 at 6:16pm

Six people – three from Orange County – have been indicted in a so-called property flipping scheme that involved REO (Real Estate Owned) properties.

The defendants are Sylvia Melkonian, 48, of Laguna Beach, Andrew Wardein, 38, of Irvine, Craig Shults, 41, of Huntington Beach, Sheridan Snyder, 65, of Turtletown, Tennessee, Paul LiCausi, 47, of Fort Pierce, Florida and Joseph Haymore, 31, of Port St. Lucie, Florida.

In each case, the investors (victims) were told the REO/bank-owned properties for up to $45,000 and told that the properties had clean titles, property management contracts and guaranteed renters for three months. They also were told by the defendants that they could resell the properties back at end of a year for $60,000 None of this was true, and in fact title could not be acquired with some of the properties (title fraud) and others were encumbered by tax or other liens, were uninhabitable, condemned or had building permit or code issues. The properties had been purchased by the defendants for $10,000 each.

Read the original article in the Orange County Breeze.

Man at Center of $142 Million Real Estate Fraud Goes on Trial

April 18th, 2012 at 1:58pm

A Murrieta man who is on trial for ripping off friends and investors out of $142 million in a real estate investment fraud scheme has challenged them in court to show a paper trail between them and him, as well as his mother, who is also on trial. The victims include fellow church-goers, kung-fu classmates, an animal control officer, retirees, a security guard and a mortgage broker.

Hendrix Montecastro, 39, and his mother, Helen Moreno Pedrino, 60, were charged in 2009 with 249 felony charges of securities fraud, grand theft, elder financial abuse and corporate identity theft.

According to the prosecution’s key witness, district attorney investigator Brent Westwood, proving that paper trail will be difficult.

Five other defendants have already pleaded guilty, but Montecastro and his mother are representing themselves in Riverside County Superior Court.

Read the original article in the Press Enterprise.


“Ken” of “Ken & Katie Show” in Ventura Pleads Guilty to Real Estate Fraud

April 12th, 2012 at 9:17pm

The first of three persons has pleaded guilty in a real estate fraud case in Ventura County.

Former “Ken & Katie” radio show host Kenneth A. Powell, 58, admitted his guilt in committing 15 felonies according to Ventura County District Attorney Prosecutor Miles Weiss. The crimes include grand theft, theft of an elderly person (elder financial fraud) and multiple aggravated white-collar enhanced crimes.

Powell’s alleged co-conspirators, co-host Kathryn “Katie” Rose, 62, of Woodland Hills, and Paul Charles Lascola, 69, of Thousand Oaks, have also been charged in this real estate investment fraud saga.

The “Ken & Katie” show, which aired on KVTA/1520 AM, was one of three radio infomercials, the other two being “Academy of Real Estate” and “Money Intelligence.”  In all, investors from Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties lost $3 million.

Read the original article in the Ventura County Star.

$142 Million Mortgage Fraud Case Suffers More Delays

April 12th, 2012 at 8:41pm

Hendrix Moreno Montecastro, a 39-year old Murrieta man accused of playing a critical role in an alleged $142 million mortgage fraud, has benefited from numerous delays in his case.

Montecastro was arrested and charged in November 2009 with grand theft, securities fraud, elder abuse and corporate ID theft in the case that caused more than 200 foreclosures in Riverside County as well as the above dollar losses for the investors. His alleged co-conspirator and mastermind, James Benjamin Duncan, also of Murrieta, has already pleaded guilty to corporate ID theft and six counts of securities fraud.

The latest delay was due to Montecastro firing his attorney. Both he and his mother, co-defendant Helen Moreno Pedrino, are now representing themselves.

Read the original article in the Press Enterprise.

Cedar Funding Real Estate Fraud Case Winding Down

April 6th, 2012 at 8:02am

The former owner of Monterey-based Cedar Funding, David Nilsen, 61, has been sentenced to eight years in prison for defrauding investors in a $100 million real estate investment fraud. As part of his sentence, Nilsen, a mortgage broker, has also been ordered to repay $70 million to his jilted investors.

Nilsen is seen by many in his profession, law enforcement and his investors as a once-honest professional who made bad decisions once the real estate melt-down began. His victims, many of whom had known Nilsen during better times, trusted him and sank their entire life’s savings into his mortgage fund. Some of them have forgiven him, believe the prison sentence is fair and moved on while others believe he should have received 25 years behind bars.

Manoel Errico, Cedar Funding’s loan manager, has fled the United States and is a fugitive from justice.

David Nilsen’s real estate license has been revoked by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE).

Read the original article in the Silicon Valley Mercury News.

Richard Lamphere Real Estate Fraud Case to be Heard

March 29th, 2012 at 9:21pm

In an update to a previous article in the California Real Estate Fraud Report, the Solano County Superior Court judge hearing the criminal case against Richard D. Lamphere, 48, for various charges related to real estate fraud, has ordered the attorneys for both sides back to her court next month to present their arguments.

Richard Lamphere has been charged with grand theft, selling unregistered securities and making false statements and/or omissions in relation to monies he received from Ronald Nicoli. Nicoli, who won almost $2 million in a civil lawsuit against Lamphere, contended that Lamphere diverted Nicoli’s original investment into Lamphere’s own projects (real estate investment fraud).

 Read the original article in the Vacaville Reporter.

Straw Buyer Admits to Lending His Credit in Farm Mortgage Fraud

March 22nd, 2012 at 11:27pm

Larry Otting, 66, a co-defendant in a case involving the purchase of a business called Healthy Family Farms, admitted during testimony that he allowed his fellow defendant Sharon Palmer use both his name and good credit (straw buyer) in order to secure financing for the farm (loan fraud, mortgage fraud).

Sharon Palmer and James Stewart, 64, bought the farm in Santa Paula after Otting received a loan for $1.1 million from Rabobank.

Palmer and Stewart are charged with multiple felonies related to the solicitation of investors for the farm purchase and fraud involving a bank in a real estate transaction (mortgage fraud, real estate fraud). In addition, Palmer is charged with stealing the loan money from the bank and another $450,000 from investors, at least one of whom is elderly (elder financial fraud).

Read the original article in the Ventura County Star.

© Copyright 2007-2016 Monique Bryher

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The information and notices contained on The California Real Estate Fraud Report are intended to summarize recent developments in real estate fraud, mortgage fraud, short sale fraud, REO fraud, appraisal fraud, loan modification scams, loan modification fraud and other real estate related crimes occurring in Los Angeles and California. The posts on this site are presented as general research and information and are expressly not intended, and should not be regarded, as legal advice. Much of the information on this site concerns allegations made in civil lawsuits and in criminal indictments. All persons are presumed innocent until convicted of a crime. Readers who have particular questions about real estate fraud, mortgage fraud and appraisal fraud matters or who believe they require legal counsel should seek the advice of an attorney.

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