This press release was copied from the website of U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.
Anthony Keslinke was charged today by superseding indictment in a scheme involving short sale mortgage fraud (“short sale fraud“), announced U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Jay Fitzpatrick, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez.
According to the superseding indictment, Keslinke used straw buyers to purchase real estate throughout Northern California. Keslinke identified properties, including his own properties, that were potential candidates for a “short sale.” A “short sale” is a sale of real estate in which the sale proceeds are less than the balance owed on the mortgage loan pertaining to the property and often occurs when a borrower cannot pay the mortgage loan. In furtherance of the scheme, Keslinke allegedly submitted offers to the financial institutions on behalf of straw buyers. In order to induce a bank to accept a short sale offer, Keslinke would draft fraudulent financial hardship letters and submit them on behalf of the seller of a property. In addition, Keslinke often altered engineering and pest reports associated with the properties in order to give the appearance to the financial institutions that the properties were worth significantly less than true fair market value. Additionally, according to the superseding indictment, Keslinke often altered bank account documents to create the appearance that the straw buyers had sufficient funds to purchase the properties in cash. Once a financial institution accepted a particular property for a short sale, Keslinke used his own funds to purchase the property in the name of the straw buyer. After a short sale was completed on a particular property, Keslinke maintained control of the property and often sold the property for a significant financial gain. Keslinke is charged in the superseding indictment with using this mortgage fraud scheme to orchestrate the short sale of properties in Danville, California; Walnut Creek, California; and Kings Beach, California.
The indictment also alleges that between August of 2013 and February of 2014, Keslinke met with an undercover agent purporting to be a drug dealer on multiple occasions. On five separate occasions, Keslinke accepted a total of $550,000 from the undercover agent. In an attempt to conceal the true source of the funds, Keslinke repeatedly deposited the money received from the undercover agent into business bank accounts under Keslinke’s control. Keslinke then attempted to launder the money by wiring it from his business bank accounts to an account controlled by the undercover agent. During the investigation, Keslinke routinely kept 8-10% of the money provided to him from the undercover agent as a fee for his services.
Upon a conviction on any of the bank fraud or wire fraud charges, alleged in counts one through six, Keslinke shall forfeit any property, real or personal, which constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to the offense.
Upon a conviction of any of the money laundering charges, alleged in counts seven through twelve, Keslinke shall forfeit $320,000 cash seized from Keslinke’s residence, approximately $1.4 million from bank accounts, 500 American Silver Eagle coin, and a Tiffany diamond solitaire ring, all of which allegedly constitutes or is derived from the proceeds traceable to the offenses.
The maximum statutory penalty for each count of Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud and Bank Fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349 and 18 U.S.C. §§ 1344, is 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of Wire Fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343, is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering and Money Laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h) and 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(3)(B), is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Wegner is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Vanessa Vargas. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue Service. The Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office and Livermore Police Department have also provided assistance during the investigation. The investigation was conducted and funded by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a multi-agency task force that coordinates long-term narcotics trafficking investigations.
Please note, an indictment contains only allegations. Therefore, as with all defendants, Anthony Keslinke must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
(Keslinke superseding indictment )