Christopher Rakel, 29, St. Louis County, Missouri, pled guilty to fraud charges involving a far-ranging scheme to defraud banks and other mortgage lenders.
As previously reported by Mortgage Fraud Blog, Rakel, a mortgage broker with Tri-State Mortgage, facilitated the purchase of dozens of fraudulent real estate transactions, primarily in South St. Louis, Missouri, during 2005 and 2006. Rakel prepared fraudulent loan applications and other documents to assist buyers in obtaining millions of dollars in financing they could not otherwise obtain. The mortgage fraud scheme involved dozens of properties, and a number of co-conspirators, including investors, mortgage brokers and appraisers.
Rakel pled guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit bank, wire and mail fraud, and one felony count of money laundering. He appeared before United States District Judge Charles A. Shaw.
Rakel now faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $500,000. The government will also seek restitution for the lenders victimized by the scheme. Sentencing has been set for June 23, 2008.
“Misconduct like this only makes things worse for the troubled housing industry,” said Hanaway. “Federal law enforcement has responded to the crisis by stepping up fraud enforcement and emphasizing the prosecution of criminal misconduct and, hopefully, the aggressive collection of restitution for victims.”
Hanaway commended Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation for their investigation resulting in the money laundering charge and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their investigation of the bank, wire and mail fraud charges. Assistant United States Attorney Tom Albus is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.