January 29th, 2016 at 11:56am
Martin Calzada, 28, a former employee for Star Reliable Mortgage has pleaded not guilty in federal court after being charged by the Department of Justice with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud.
Calzada is accused of charging homeowners facing foreclosure upfront fees between $2,500 to $4,500 in what the feds call a “loan elimination” scheme. He and other employees are alleged to have filed phony documents with the County Recorder’s office, replacing the homeowners’ names with trusts linked to himself and the company. The homeowners/clients were also told to stop making their mortgage payments, resulting in foreclosure actions.
Read the original article in the Visalia Times-Delta.
Update: Martin Calzada was convicted in March and is scheduled to be sentenced June 5. He could receive 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
January 29th, 2016 at 11:42am
Thomas Franklin Tarbutton, 56, of Newport Beach, has been convicted of almost 40 felony counts, after being tried for grand theft and securities fraud. The 11 victims lost over $3 million, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Pete Pierce of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Tarbutton operated Irvine-based Villa Capital Inc. from 2004-2010 and funded private loans using monies he received from investors. He fled to Panama but was extradited to Orange County in December 2013.
Read the original article in The Patch.
January 20th, 2016 at 9:05pm
A federal jury Friday has convicted Vera Kuzmenko, 45, of Loomis, and Rachel Siders, 40, of Roseville, of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud for their roles in a mortgage fraud scheme that caused losses to financial institutions exceeding $16 million, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
Vera Kuzmenko was additionally found guilty of witness tampering and money laundering.
Prosecutors presented evidence during the trial that, from late 2006 through early 2008, the defendants ran a mortgage fraud scheme in the Sacramento area involving at least 30 properties. Vera Kuzmenko was a licensed real estate agent who helped straw buyers by creating fraudulent loan applications that contained false information regarding their income, jobs, assets and their intent to reside in the properties.
Rachel Siders operated the escrow company used for most of the transactions. She funneled millions of dollars to Kuzmenko and other defendants, a fact which was not disclosed to the lenders (escrow fraud).
“Vera Kuzmenko was a major figure in a network of fraudsters responsible for a wave of mortgage fraud that hit the Sacramento area,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner. “As the guilty verdicts in this case demonstrate, mortgage fraudsters who believe they can escape accountability for their crime by blaming others and offering false alibis are mistaken.”
Read the original article in the Imperial Valley News.
January 20th, 2016 at 8:50pm
Vallejo residents Zalathiel Aguila, 42, and Omar Anabo, 53, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make false statements on loan applications.
Aguila and Anabo ran Vallejo‑based Capital Access LLC. The purpose of the company was to be an interim mortgage rescue program that purported to help distressed homeowners by purchasing their homes using straw buyer investors. The homeowners were convinced to sign title of their homes to Capital Access, which then sold the properties to the straw buyers. The straw buyers obtained loans after promising to occupy the homes and that the down-payment money was not borrowed; neither were true, according to court records.
Read the original article in the Daily Republic.
January 20th, 2016 at 8:37pm
Modesto resident Tony Huy Havens, 42, was sentenced Monday by United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill for his role in two mortgage fraud schemes.
The sentence of three years and five months was announced by United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner.
In the first case, Havens sought out individuals in at least eight states whose construction projects were in danger of foreclosing and extracted advance fees after showing them fraudulent documents indicating a lender would make them loans.
In the second scheme, Havens used two relatives as straw buyers to obtain a loan that exceeded the actual selling price of a residential property. The excess was returned to him, which he used to purchase the property.
The cases were the product of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Housing Financing Agency, Office of Inspector General.
Read the original Press Release.
January 1st, 2016 at 12:14pm
Forty-two year-old Michele Lynne Stewart was arrested on Christmay Day and charged with over two dozen felony counts of forgery and theft, to which she pleaded not guilty.
Stewart stands accused of taking 28 fraudulent checks for a total of $240,880 from a manager of the Irvine office of First Team from September 2011 through April 2012. She is just one of nine defendants who have already been charged but are considered fugitives. They are Brian Vancleave, Robert Morken, Jennifer Vancleave, Joe Chang, Joon Kim, Rebecca Kim, Tomy Lam, Bryce Jacot and Jimmy Lam.
Brian Vancleave ran First Team‘s risk management division for that office. He has been accused of writing 228 fraudulent checks for more than $1.4 million to friends and relatives, according to court records.
Read the original article in the OC Register.