Archives For Mortgage Fraud

Marco Laureti, 45, Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, and Felix Mostelac, 44, Miami Beach, Florida, were charged by Indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution, and multiple counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution. Michelle Cabrera, 48, Miami Lakes, Florida, and Pedro Melian, 39, Hialeah, Florida, were charged by criminal Information with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution. If convicted, each defendant faces up to thirty years’ imprisonment on each charged count.

According to court documents, defendants Laureti, Mostelac, Cabrera and Melian were involved with a $10 million mortgage fraud scheme. Laureti was a former newspaper publisher and owner of Laureti Publishing Company, in addition to being a licensed real estate sales associate and mortgage broker. Mostelac was Laureti’s associate and also the owner of several companies. Cabrera owned Florida Elite Title & Escrow in Davie, Florida, and served as the title agent for these transactions. Melian also owned several companies.

According to court documents, the defendants engaged in a fraud scheme involving a condominium complex located at 45 Hendricks Isle, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Defendants Laureti, Mostelac and Melian made false and fraudulent statements to a financial institution on loan applications and closing statements for the multi-million dollar condominiums. Once the loans were approved, defendant Cabrera, at Laureti’s direction, diverted the loan proceeds to fund the cash the borrower was expected to bring to the property’s closing, as well as diverting additional monies from the loan proceeds to various companies owned by Laureti and Mostelac. Furthermore, according to court documents, Laureti and Mostelac utilized the same scheme on the loan applications and closing statements to purchase their own multi-million dollar residential properties in Miami Beach, in addition to Laureti directing Cabrera to divert funds. The defendants’ scheme defrauded the financial institution of approximately $10 million.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Katz.

Cecil Sylvester Chester, 70, Mitchellville, Maryland was sentenced to two years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for a mortgage fraud scheme involving the fraudulent purchase of seven properties in Baltimore, Maryland using fraudulent loan documentation and straw purchasers, resulting in losses of over $1.4 million.

Chester worked as an accountant from an office located on New Hampshire Avenue in Hyattsville, Maryland.  Co-conspirator Andreas E. Tamaris, 46, Bel Air, Maryland,   purchased, renovated, and then resold distressed row houses in Baltimore City, primarily in the Highlandtown area. Co-conspirators Michael Gerard Camphor, 60, Baltimore, Maryland, was a real estate agent and Christopher A. Kwegan, 59, Randallstown, Maryland,was a real estate agent and general contractor.

According to his guilty plea, from February 2008 to July 2009, Chester and his co-conspirators, found buyers for Tamaris’ properties and for other property owners. Chester persuaded individuals, who were inexperienced with residential real estate transactions and who lacked the funds needed to pay the down payment and closing costs, to purchase Baltimore row houses owned by Tamaris or otherwise located by the conspirators. Chester advised these “straw purchasers” that they didn’t need to contribute funds for the down payment or closing costs to buy these properties. Chester also advised that he would place tenants in the properties whose rent payments would cover the monthly mortgage payments after the transactions closed, and that Chester would collect the rent and make the mortgage payments.

Chester and his co-conspirators set the purchase price for the properties to exceed their actual fair market value, thereby generating excess proceeds from the transactions from which they could profit.  For example, when Kwegan located a house he wanted to sell, he sought assistance from Chester and real estate agent/consultant Camphor, who were already operating a mortgage fraud scheme. Chester, Kwegan and Camphor set the price of a row house in Baltimore at $250,000, rather than the actual market price of approximately $75,000. Kwegan derived over $100,000 in proceeds from the sale of this home to a straw purchaser and paid another $40,000 to Chester for his assistance.

Chester, Camphor, and others recruited buyers to purchase houses, knowing that they did not qualify for the home mortgages.  The conspirators provided false information about the straw purchasers’ employment, income and financial assets, as well as fraudulent supporting documentation to the mortgage loan brokers to enable the straw purchasers to qualify for home mortgage loans. The conspirators falsely indicated to the mortgage loan brokers that the straw purchasers each intended to use the property as their primary residence following the purchase. Tamaris and other individuals supplied the funds needed for the down payment and closing costs on each of the transactions, and were in turn reimbursed from the loan proceeds at settlement.

Chester brought the straw purchasers to the closing, and then caused the straw purchasers to falsely sign certifications in the closing documents affirming that they intended to use the properties as their primary residence and that no portion of the down payment and closing costs were borrowed.  Following the settlement on each transaction in which they participated, Chester and the other conspirators received substantial payments drawn from the proceeds of the loan.

Few, if any, payments were made towards the mortgages.  The seven properties in which Chester was involved all went into foreclosure, resulting in a loss of at least $1.483 million.

Chester was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar. Judge Bredar also ordered Chester to pay restitution of at least $1.483 million, with the exact amount to be determined by the Court.

In related proceedings, Tamaris, Camphor, Kwegan, and Alexander Sivels, II, 32, Baltimore, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to their roles in this, or related mortgage fraud schemes.  Tamaris was sentenced to 15 months in prison and was ordered to pay $1,229,206.28 in restitution.  Sivels and Kwegan were each sentenced to 27 months in prison.  Judge Bredar ordered Sivels to pay restitution of $1,317,314.35, and ordered Kwegan to pay restitution of $530,641.27. Camphor is scheduled to be sentenced on December 19, 2016.

The sentences were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Special Agent in Charge Bertrand Nelson of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General; and Special Agent in Charge Brian Murphy of the United States Secret Service – Baltimore Field Office.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI, HUD OIG – Office of Investigations and the U.S. Secret Service for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Jefferson M. Gray, who is prosecuting the case.

Dianna F. Woods, 59, Citrus Heights, California, was found guilty after a four–day trial, a federal jury found day of four counts of making false statements on loan applications.

According to evidence presented at trial, Woods was a licensed real estate salesperson who worked at a company called VLD Realty, doing business as Trade House USA, in the Sacramento, California, area. VLD built and sold houses in residential developments in Sacramento, Carmichael, and Copperopolis, California. As the housing market began to weaken from 2006 through 2008, VLD sought to sell the houses by offering incentives to buyers. VLD offered to pay the down payment or offered to give the buyers money after the sale, neither of which was disclosed to the lenders. For her part, Woods purchased two houses based on the undisclosed kickbacks. Further, for the purpose of obtaining loans to purchase the properties, Woods signed and submitted loan applications and other documents that contained false statements as to Woods’s income, employment, assets, the purpose of the property, the sales price, and whether the down payment was borrowed. Woods also assisted another buyer in making false statements to the lenders to get loans for the purchase of two properties in the housing developments and falsely verified his employment.

To date, six other defendants have been found guilty or have pleaded guilty in three related cases.

Woods is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge William B. Shubb on February 27, 2017. Woods faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine on each count.

The verdict was announced United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert.  This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Shelley Weger and Todd Pickles are prosecuting the case.

Mandy Lea Whipple, formerly Mandy Lea Johnson, 34, Page County, Iowa, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Stephanie M. Rose, to 18 months in prison followed by five years of Supervised Release for Mortgage Fraud, announced United States Attorney Kevin E. VanderSchel.

Whipple entered a guilty plea on June 9, 2016, to Mortgage Fraud for falsifying mortgage loan papers to purchase a house in Fremont County, Iowa. The investigation began with a report of delinquent payments on the purchased Fremont County residence, leading to the discovery that Whipple had falsely obtained a Veteran Administration’s loan to purchase the home, using the name and identifiers of a military veteran that employed her.

As part of the sentence, the Court ordered Whipple to make restitution to the Veteran’s Administration in the amount of $41,675.00; to J.G. Wentworth Mortgage Home Lending, LLC, in the amount of $28,904.27; and to Discover Financial Services in the amount of $5,780.04.

The sentencing was announced United States Attorney Kevin E. VanderSchel. The investigation was conducted by the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, Fremont County Attorney’s Office, Department of Veteran Affairs-Office of Inspector General, and prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.

Bruce Lewis, 65, Jacqueline Graham, 47, Anthony Vigna, 59, Rocco Cermele, 54, and Paula Guadagno, 58, were indicted and charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud in connection with a debt-elimination scheme to defraud homeowners and banks.

The Indictment alleges that in 2011 and 2012, Lewis, Graham, and an unindicted co-conspirator were partners in a business that they called the Pillow Foundation or the Terra Foundation (collectively, “Terra”).  Terra held itself out as a business that would investigate and eliminate mortgage debt in exchange for a fee.  Terra solicited clients who were having difficulties making their mortgage payments.

Vigna was a lawyer who worked in-house at Terra and provided legal services to it and its clients.  Cermele was Terra’s director of operations who recruited clients, among other duties.  Guadagno was a real estate title professional who performed real estate title work for Terra.

Lewis, Graham, Vigna, Cermele, Guadagno, and others at Terra told potential clients that Terra could eliminate their mortgage debt in exchange for a fee.  In reality, Terra filed fraudulent discharges of mortgages at local county clerk’s offices in Westchester and Putnam Counties, New York and in Connecticut.  These fraudulent documents made it appear as if Terra’s clients’ mortgages had been discharged, when in fact they had not.

To profit from their scheme, Terra and the defendants charged monthly fees that they said covered, among other things, audits of the clients’ properties that they often failed to perform.  Terra and the defendants also encouraged their clients to take out second or reverse mortgages on the properties for which Terra had claimed to have discharged the first mortgages.  Once the clients had taken out these second or reverse mortgages, Terra and the defendants retained substantial portions of the proceeds.  Some of these second or reverse mortgages were made under HUD’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Program.

In total, Terra and the defendants filed nearly 60 fraudulent discharges in Westchester and Putnam Counties in New York and in Connecticut.  The fraudulent discharges claimed to discharge mortgages with a total loan principal of over $33 million.  In reality, the Terra clients for whom the fraudulent discharges were filed were often left with both a second or reverse mortgage and their original mortgage that had not actually been discharged.

Vigna, Cermele, and Guadagno were taken into federal custody.  Lewis and Graham remain at large.

Each defendant is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud, and mail fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer Beidel, Michael Maimin, and James McMahon are in charge of the

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Christina Scaringi, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Northeast Region of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the unsealing of the Indictment.  Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and HUD-OIG.  Mr. Bharara also thanked the Westchester and Putnam County District Attorney’s Offices and the Cheshire Police Department in Cheshire, Connecticut, for their ongoing assistance in the case.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated:  “The defendants allegedly preyed on vulnerable homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments and, with their greed, victimized them further.  When the defendants were done with the victims, after falsely promising to reduce or even eliminate their mortgage debt for fees, these homeowners were left much worse off, in even greater debt.  With the charges today, and thanks to the investigative work of the FBI and HUD, the defendants now face federal fraud charges.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney stated:  “As charged, the defendants exploited a program designed to help cost-burdened individuals enjoy the privilege of affordable housing.  Crimes of this nature not only hurt their victims financially, but often force upon them other forms of anguish while harming the financial integrity of the very programs established to help them. We urge everyone to protect themselves against this type of fraud and abuse.  If something doesn’t sound right, trust your instincts and do some checking. If you think you may be or have been a victim of mortgage fraud, we urge you to contact your nearest FBI office.”

HUD-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Christina Scaringi stated:  “HUD’s reverse mortgage program was created to help our senior citizens find greater financial security through FHA-insured loans.  The defendants’ alleged scheme to unjustly enrich themselves through the victimization of our senior citizens is a shameful act that will not be tolerated by the HUD OIG.  We will continue to aggressively pursue those who would prey on America’s senior citizens and encourage anyone having knowledge of such schemes to contact our HUD hotline.”

Stevie McDonald, 42, Winter Haven, Florida, was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for bank fraud related to his role in a mortgage fraud conspiracy. As part of his sentence, the Court ordered him to pay restitution to J.P. Morgan Chase Bank in the amount of $74,868.

According to court records, on November 10, 2007, McDonald entered into a contract to purchase a home in Port Richey, Florida. He then applied for a mortgage loan from Washington Mutual Bank. In the loan documents that he signed and submitted to the bank, McDonald made false statements about his income and employment. In December 2007, during the course of closing on the property purchase, Washington Mutual paid more than $35,000 to a woman McDonald knew and later married. This payment was purportedly a satisfaction of an existing lien on the sale property. Subsequent investigation revealed that no such lien existed. Washington Mutual Bank suffered a financial loss as a consequence of McDonald’s default on the loan.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.

Mark F. Friend, 62, Stockton, California was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. to two years and four months in prison and ordered to pay $1,889,379 in restitution for conspiracy to commit bank fraud in relation to a mortgage fraud scheme.

According to court documents, between September 2006 and March 2007, while working for National City Mortgage, then a division of National City Bank, in Stockton, Friend arranged loans for borrowers that contained numerous falsehoods. He submitted false loan applications and other documents, and he made down payments on behalf of borrowers who did not have enough money, and then was repaid out of escrow after the loans were funded. The borrowers eventually stopped making payments on the loans, and National City Bank and other entities sustained losses amounting to $1,889,379.

Judge Burrell ordered Friend to self-surrender and begin his incarceration on January 13, 2017.

The plea was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert.  The case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney John K. Vincent prosecuted the case.

Aleksandr Kovalev, 53, Rocklin, California, pleaded guilty to wire fraud involving financial institutions in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme involving the purchase of at least 31 properties.

According to court documents, Kovalev was in the business of developing, building and selling property in Sacramento, Fairfield and Stockton, California. As the real estate market began to weaken, Kovalev offered to make incentive payments to purchasers, through “down payment assistance” or by making other payments to the buyers to be used in whatever manner the buyers wanted. Most of the payments to the buyers were out of escrow and were often paid through intermediaries, originating in Kovalev’s bank account. These payments were not disclosed to the lenders, and had the effect of substantially reducing the actual sales price below that was represented to the lenders. At least 31 properties were involved in Kovalev’s mortgage fraud scheme with substantial losses to the lenders.

To date, five co-defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced: Jannice Riddick, 34, Sacramento, California (two years and 11 months in prison); Florence Francisco, 65, Houston, Texas (one year in prison); Adil Qayyum, 34, Rosele, Illinois (three years of probation); Elsie Pamela Fuller, 41, Richmond, California (one year and nine months in prison); and Leona Yeargin, 49, San Pablo, California (18 months in prison). Charges are pending against co-defendant Arthur Menefee, 45, Stockton, California.

Two other defendants were charged separately for their involvement in the scheme. Valeriy Vasilevitsky, charged in U.S. v. Vasilevitsky, 2:12-cr-344 KJM, and Ruth Willis, charged in U.S. v. Willis, 2:13-cr-228 MCE, have also pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

Kovalev is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. on February 9, 2017. Kovalev faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million or twice the gross loss or gain.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd A. Pickles is prosecuting the case. The guilty plea was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert.

Orlando Ortiz, 53, Luis Enrique Tur, 47, Jeffrey Todd Canfield, 49, Rafael Amador, 34, Osvaldo Sanchez, 40, Mirna Pena, 54, and Pedro Reynaldo Allende, 66,all residents of Miami-Dade County, Florida, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud affecting a financial institution. Ortiz, Tur, Canfield, Amador, and Sanchez  are scheduled to be sentenced on January 19, 2017. Pena and Allende are scheduled to be sentenced on March 28, 2017.

The charges arise from the involvement of the defendants in a complex mortgage fraud scheme involving two condominium conversion projects in central Florida.

According to court documents, including the agreed upon factual statements:

In 2007 and 2008, Ortiz, Tur, Canfield, Amador, and Sanchez participated in a mortgage fraud scheme involving two condominium projects: “Portofino at Largo,” in Largo, Florida, and “Bayshore Landing,” in Tampa, Florida.  Pena and Allende were involved in the same mortgage fraud scheme; however, their involvement was limited to units in the Portofino at Largo project.

During the course of the conspiracy, Pena, Allende, and other individuals recruited straw buyers and unqualified buyers, including Ortiz, Tur, and Canfield, to purchase units in the two condominium projects.  Among other things, the recruiters told certain prospective buyers that: buyers did not have to contribute any money to purchase a unit; buyers would receive a cash-back incentive or “kick-back” after closing; and buyers would receive several months’ mortgage payments.

The co-conspirators prepared and submitted false and fraudulent mortgage loan applications and related documents to various lenders including Bank of America, BankUnited, Chase Bank USA, CitiMortgage, First National Bank of Arizona, IndyMac Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank, and Washington Mutual Bank.  Among other things, the loan applications and related documents contained false and fraudulent statements and omissions regarding: the borrower’s intention to reside in the unit; the borrower’s employment and income; the borrower’s assets and liabilities; the borrower’s payment of an earnest money deposit and cash-to-close; and the use of mortgage loan proceeds to pay “marketing fees” to various “marketing companies.”  In truth and in fact, the marketing companies were fraudulent businesses that did not provide any marketing services.  Instead, the “fraudulently induced marketing fees” were a means of diverting proceeds from the fraud scheme to the marketing companies.  The fraudulent marketing companies would then use the fraud proceeds to pay undisclosed kick-backs to the buyers.

Pena and Allende operated two Miami-based businesses, which were used to perpetrate the mortgage fraud scheme: Mortgage Bankers Lenders, Inc., a mortgage broker business, which submitted false and fraudulent loan applications and related documents to the lenders; and United Title Services & Escrow, Inc., which closed mortgage loan transactions even though the buyers had not paid earnest money deposits or cash-to-close, and used loan proceeds to pay “marketing fees” to a marketing company operated by unindicted co-conspirators.

Ortiz, Canfield, and Tur purchased units in Portofino at Largo.  Tur also purchased units in Bayshore Landing.  Ortiz, Canfield, and Tur engaged a Miami-based mortgage broker business operated by an unindicted co-conspirator to prepare and submit mortgage loan applications for their units.  On their behalf, the co-conspirator prepared and submitted fraudulent loan applications and other documents to various lenders.  The fraudulent loan documents included fabricated W-2 Wage and Tax Statements and pay stubs.  After closing on their units, Ortiz, Canfield, and Tur received substantial undisclosed kick-backs from a marketing company operated by an unindicted co-conspirator.  The kick-backs were funded with fraud proceeds, which had been paid to the marketing company as “marketing fees.”

Amador and Sanchez operated Allegiance Title of America, Inc., which served as the closing agent for mortgage loans involving condominium units in Portofino at Largo and Bayshore Landing.  Among other things, Amador and Sanchez caused Allegiance Title of America to disburse loan proceeds even though the buyers had not paid the earnest money deposits or cash to close, that was required by their loan applications and settlement statements.  Amador and Sanchez also caused Allegiance Title of America to pay fraudulent “marketing fees” to marketing companies.

The defendants face a maximum statutory term of thirty years’ imprisonment for their participation in the mortgage fraud conspiracy.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Timothy Mowery, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG), George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Juan J. Perez, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), made the announcement.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FHFA-OIG, FBI and MDPD.  Both cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dwayne E. Williams.

 

Alexander Sivels, II, real estate consultant, 32, Baltimore, Maryland and Christopher A. Kwegan, real estate agent, 59, Randallstown, Maryland, were each sentenced to 27 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for related mortgage fraud schemes. U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar handed down the sentence and also  ordered Sivels to pay restitution of $1,317,314.35, and ordered Kwegan to pay restitution of $530,641.27.

Sivels previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud involving the fraudulent purchase of at least nine properties in Baltimore using fraudulent loan documentation and settlement documents, resulting in actual or attempted losses of more than $1.3 million. Kwegan participated in the fraudulent sale of two properties with losses of more than $530,000.

According to Sivels’ plea agreement and other court documents, Sivels owned Royal Real Estate Consultants LLC, and co-conspirator Cecil Chester worked as an accountant from an office located on New Hampshire Avenue in Hyattsville, Maryland.  Co-conspirator Andreas Tamaris, 46, Bel Air, Maryland, purchased, renovated, and then resold distressed row houses in Baltimore City, primarily in Highlandtown.  In 2007 or 2008, Sivels met Tamaris and agreed to assist Tamaris to find purchasers for houses he had bought and renovated, or that were owned by developers who owed money to Tamaris for renovation work.  Tamaris told Sivels the amount he needed to receive from the sale of each property to recover his investment and earn a profit.  Tamaris told Sivels that he could keep any excess funds generated if Sivels sold the house for more than the amount Tamaris needed to cover his costs.

Between 2008 and 2011, Sivels participated in the sale of at least nine properties, all of which were eventually foreclosed upon, resulting in losses of more than $1.3 million.  In 2008 and 2009, Sivels and Chester recruited buyers to purchase houses, knowing that they did not qualify for the home mortgages.  To enable the buyers to purchase the properties, Sivels and his co-conspirators prepared fraudulent mortgage applications which misrepresented the buyers’ income and assets.  Sivels sometimes created fake tax documents and false pay stubs, and falsified bank statements to reflect the substantial balances referenced by the loan application.  The conspirators often inflated the price of the house to insure a profit for themselves.  At the settlements for the properties, the proceeds of the sale were generally distributed to Tamaris, who would write checks to Sivels for his portion of the profits.  From the sale of just four of the properties Sivels received payments totaling more than $200,000.

In 2010 and 2011, Sivels assisted with the sales of several other Tamaris-owned properties by providing prospective lenders with fraudulent verifications of employment for the purchasers, falsely representing that they worked at a home renovation company Sivels owned, receiving cash payments in return for his assistance.

According to his guilty plea, in the summer of 2008, Kwegan learned that the owner of a row house on Washington Boulevard in Baltimore City was trying to sell his home.  The owner had purchased the property 10 years earlier for $11,500 and Kwegan told him that he could sell it for $75,000.  The owner agreed to sell it for that price. Rather than trying to sell the property at the actual market price, Kwegan requested assistance from Cecil Chester, who was already operating a mortgage fraud scheme and they set the sale price of the row house at $250,000.

Kwegan arranged to use the personal identifiers of an individual recruited by Chester to buy the property as a straw purchaser.  Kwegan and his co-conspirators knew that the straw purchaser lacked the necessary assets to pay for the down payments and closing costs on the property, or the income to keep up the mortgage payments on the house after the transaction closed.  Chester provided a mortgage loan broker with a false loan application and fraudulent supporting documents which inaccurately represented that the straw purchaser’s employment, annual income, and assets.  Based upon these false representations, a bank wired $242,500 to finance the purchase of the property, at the settlement on September 30, 2008.  Kwegan used his own funds to obtain a cashier’s check in the amount of $9,391.53 to cover the down payment and the straw purchaser’s share of the closing costs.  After the settlement, just $15,773.65 was disbursed to the seller of the property.  In contrast, $145,000 was wired to an entity identified as “CAK,” which were Kwegan’s initials.   These funds were transferred into Kwegan’s bank account.  Kwegan then wrote a check to Chester for $35,000.  No payments were made on the mortgage.  The property went into foreclosure and remains unsold at this time, resulting in a loss of between $150,000 and $235,000.  At today’s hearing, the Court found that Kwegan was also involved in the fraudulent sale of another property with Chester, resulting in a loss of $296,000.  Kwegan derived over $100,000 in proceeds from this transaction and paid another $40,000 to Chester for his assistance.

Tamaris previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on November 15, 2016.  Co-conspirator Cecil Sylvester Chester, age 69, of Mitchellville, Maryland pleaded guilty to the fraudulent purchase of seven properties in Baltimore, using fraudulent loan documentation and straw purchasers, resulting in losses of over $1.4 million. Chester is scheduled to be sentenced on November 28, 2016. Michael Gerard Camphor, 60, Baltimore, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty for his participation in the fraudulent purchase of four properties in Baltimore resulting in losses of over $736,000. Judge Bredar scheduled Camphor’s sentencing for December 19, 2016.

The sentences were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Special Agent in Charge Bertrand Nelson of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General; and Special Agent in Charge Brian Murphy of the United States Secret Service – Baltimore Field Office.

Mortgage fraud perpetrators steal by inducing lenders to make loans that will never be repaid, and they harm neighborhoods when the inevitable foreclosures drive down property values,” stated U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI, HUD OIG – Office of Investigations and the U.S. Secret Service for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Jefferson M. Gray, who prosecuted the cases.