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Archive for April, 2015

Sacramento developer, escrow officer indicted

April 24th, 2015 at 6:01am

U.S. District Attorney Benjamin Wagner announced that his office has indicted Sacramento-area developer Abolghasseni “Abe” Alizadeh and escrow officer Mary Sue Weaver on multiple counts of fraud for a scheme that caused losses to three banks of at least $20 million.

Alizadeh, owner of Kobra Properties, and Placer Title Company senior escrow officer Weaver have each been charged with six counts of wire fraud, nine counts of mail fraud, three counts of bank fraud and three counts of making a false statement to a federally insured institution.

The allegations in the indictment are that between June 2004 and April 2008, Alizadeh made agreements to purchase commercial properties at lower prices than he indicated to the lenders where he was applying for loans. He wrote checks to Placer Title Company for the down-payments, but Weaver is accused of not depositing the checks until after close of escrow, at which time she disbursed money from Placer’s escrow accounts to Kobra. Kobra used those funds to cover its checks, which Weaver then deposited.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Allison Claire has ordered both defendants held without bail pending their first court appearance.

Read the original article in and the Sacramento Bee.

Walnut Creek man sentenced for $21 million real estate investment fraud

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.

Bank of America appeals $1.3 billion “Hustle” loan verdict

April 23rd, 2015 at 6:30am

Financial giant Bank of America has appealed a $1.3 billion penalty assessed by Judge Jed Rakoff in July 14 for selling toxic home mortgage loans, which Judge Rakoff had described as “brazen fraud.”

BofA filed its appeal with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, claiming that it had been prevent from presenting evidence that its “Hustle” loans were “at least as high quality as other loans” made during the period prior to the meltdown of the U.S. mortgage market.

The U.S. Department of Justice had filed a lawsuit against Bank of America in October 2012, claiming that the Hustle loan program made by Countrywide involved loans being processed at rapid speed without regard for their quality. The loans were resold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, causing billions in losses to those institutions and taxpayers.

Read the original article in Financial Times.

Two Bakersfield women get prison for mortgage fraud

April 22nd, 2015 at 7:47am

Two women whose role in a mortgage fraud scheme caused financial losses to lenders have been sentenced to two years in prison after being convicted at trial of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud.

In addition to prison time, Evelyn Brigget Sanchez, 32, and Darling Arlette Montalvo, 34, both of Bakersfield, must forfeit money judgments to the United States for $1,412,100 and $1,017,100, respectively.

At trial, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kirk Sherriff and Henry Carbajal III proved that Sanchez and Montalvo conspired with co-defendants Eric Hernandez, Monica Hernandez, and Patricia King to defraud lenders. The two women worked at mortgage brokerages in Bakersfield and submitted fraudulent loan applications on behalf of borrowers.

Eric Hernandez, Monica Hernandez, and Patricia King previously pleaded guilty. Eric Hernandez received 10 years and 10 months in prison; Monica Hernandez received one year in prison; and Patricia King received three years and one month in prison.

Read the original article in the Imperial Valley News.

Stockton loan officer indicted in mortgage fraud scheme

April 22nd, 2015 at 7:36am

Mark F. Friend, 60, a mortgage loan officer has been indicted by a federal grand jury on six counts of bank fraud relating to a mortgage fraud scheme.

The allegations relate to Friend’s employment in 2005 and 2006 with National City Mortgage, then a division of National City Bank, in Stockton. According to the indictment, Friend submitted loan applications and other documents that contained false information and even made down-payments on behalf of borrowers who could not afford the down-payments. He was later repaid from escrow after the loans were funded. In the end, National City Bank lost approximately $1.5 million.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the prosecutors are Assistant United States Attorneys John Vincent and Christiaan Highsmith.

Read the original article in HousingWire.

Modesto man pleads guilty to Guatemalan real estate investment scam

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.

Modesto man pleads guilty to real estate investment fraud

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.

Two Bakersfield women sentenced for mortgage fraud

April 15th, 2015 at 11:31am

Two women from Bakersfield were sentenced Monday in federal court to two years in prison each for their involvement in a mortgage fraud scheme that ran from October 2005 to May 2007.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Fresno said 32-year-old Evelyn Brigget Sanchez and 34-year-old Darling Arlette Montalvo have each been sentenced to two years in prison.

The two women, who worked at mortgage brokerages, were convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud, plus other counts, conspired with others to defraud lenders by submitting false and fraudulent loan documentation to lenders. They must each pay financial judgments of over $1 million.

Three of their co-defendants have already been sentenced to prison: Eric Hernandez received 10 years and 10 months; Patricia King received three years and one month in prison; and Monica Hernandez was sentenced to one year.

Read the original story

Two Jara Brothers Investments defendants plead guilty to mortgage fraud

April 15th, 2015 at 8:57am

Defendants Lucia Chavez, 37, and her husband Joseph Chavez, 41, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud, in relation to their business dealings with Jara Brothers Investments (JBI) in Bakersfield.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that Lucia Chavez agreed to a personal forfeiture money judgment of $1,624,450 and Joseph Chavez agreed to a personal forfeiture money judgment of $3,092,000 as part of their plea bargain. Both defendants with be sentenced in mid-July 2015.

JBI was owned by Lucia Chavez‘ brothers Eliseo Jara and Sergio Jara, who were co-defendants in this case. The conspirators committed mortgage fraud against lenders by assisting straw buyers to purchase properties developed by Pershing Partners LLC, which was owned by Lucia Chavez, and Jara Brothers Investments. The lenders neither knew that the conspirators funded the straw buyers‘ down-payments themselves and intentionally submitted false information to the lenders about the financial assets, employment status and bank accounts.

The remaining seven co-defendants have all previously pleaded guilty in this case. Co-defendant Antonio Perez-Marcial was sentenced on May 12, 2014 to 3 years and 10 months in prison for his role in the conspiracy. Co-defendants Eliseo Jara, Sergio Jara, Arlene Mojardin, and Candace Gonzales each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud, and are scheduled to be sentenced on the following dates: May 18, 2015 (Arlene Mojardin), June 8, 2015 (Candace Gonzales), and June 22, 2015 (Eliseo Jara and Sergio Jara). Co-defendant Melissa Jara pleaded guilty to wire fraud and is to be sentenced on June 22, 2015. Co-defendant Ricardo Salinas previously pleaded guilty to bank fraud, and his sentencing is set for June 29, 2015.

The Jara Brothers Investments case was jointly investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kirk E. Sherriff, Henry Z. Carbajal III, and Megan A.S. Richards were the prosecutors.

Read the original article in KERO 23ABC News.

Detroit homes at risk from tax liens – homeowners fight back

April 8th, 2015 at 9:07am

Although this story originates in Detroit, it is instructive as to this kind of potential real estate actions against homes occurring in every state.

Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner says “It’s theft,” in describing how operators set up corporate names and find homes that are behind on tax payments. They pay some of the past-due property taxes, then foreclose and put the homes up for auction. So far, at least 50 homes have had their ownership status put into jeopardy by these actions.

Meisner further said that this is a repeat of a scam that occurred in Wayne County 10 years ago. “Our system of property rights in this country is a very basic underpinning of our society,” he said. “Senior citizens, people with disabilities, some of the more vulnerable are really, really at risk.”

One military veteran managed to save his home that Consolidated Brokers’ Pool was trying to take title to through the court system.  He was fortunate in that Oakland County Clerk and Register of Deeds Lisa Brown and other County officials persuaded Oakland County Circuit Judge Nanci Grant to rule against Consolidated. Lisa Brown was quoted as saying “They are stealing homes. They’re committing a fraud on the court.” (Photo: Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press) And “Consolidated Brokers’ Pool LLC accrued NO legal interest in the subject property.”

Consolidated Brokers’ Pool is owned by Sherman Pegross, a 45-year old Detroit man who has  served time in federal prison and has a criminal record of arrests and convictions for theft, credit card fraud and other offenses.

Other homeowners are fighting the liens placed against their homes, many by Consolidated or other entities operated by Pegross. Yet to date, nobody has been charged with a crime.

For his part, Pegross says, “The treasurer likes to make me out to be the monster simply because he doesn’t want me to do what I’m doing because sometimes I help myself, sometimes I help the (homeowner). But when I help myself or that person, it means he didn’t sell it at auction. He’s mad about that.”

In the meantime, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette published an opinion last year that anyone paying taxes on a property he or she doesn’t own is simply making a gift and earns no rights to the property.

Read the original article in the Detroit Free Press.

© Copyright 2007-2018 Monique Bryher

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