Archives For Mortgage Fraud

Barry E. Horrow was charged by information in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with four counts of bank fraud and one count of aiding and abetting.

The information alleges that Horrow was a CPA who owned and operated Horrow and Associates, first in Delaware County and then in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  From January 2005 through March 2013, George Barnard and David Fili, Jr. (both of whom were charged separately), began operating Capital Financial Mortgage Corp (“CFMC”) first as a mortgage brokerage and later as a direct mortgage lender.  Barnard also had a direct or indirect ownership interest in various title companies, including PA/NJ Abstract, Inc. dba East Coast Land Transfer, PANJ Land Transfer LLC, Tri-State Land Transfer LLC, Nationwide Land Transfer LLC, Atlantic Closing Services LLC and Gulf Coast Land Transfer Inc. CFMC and the title companies were clients of Horrow and Horrow prepared financial statements and the personal tax returns of Barnard and the corporate tax returns of CFMC and the title companies. The financial statements Horrow prepared for Barnard and CFMC were false. Horrow purported to conduct audits of CFMC and issued audit reports that he knew were being submitted to lenders to help secure loans for CFMC and Barnard when, in fact, he did not conduct any true audits and knew the audit reports were false.

The information further alleges that, in order to qualify for a loans to purchase homes at 221 65th Street, Avalon, New Jersey, 39 E. 25th Street, Avalon, New Jersey, and 670 First Avenue, Avalon, New Jersey, Barnard prepared and submitted various documents, including documents Barnard knew were false, in order to falsely inflate his income and cause the bank to believe his cash flow and net worth were greater than they were. The false documents included false tax returns prepared by Horrow.

Michael Johnson, 56, Odessa, Florida, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for embezzlement and misapplication of funds. As part of his sentence, the Court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $152,783, the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.  Johnson was adjudicated guilty on July 8, 2016.

According to the plea agreement and court proceedings, Johnson was employed as a Senior Vice President/Special Assets Officer at American Momentum Bank, an FDIC insured institution that was a member bank of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas. In this capacity, he was responsible for marketing and selling bank-owned properties to investors in order to remove these troubled assets from American Momentum Bank’s balance sheet. Johnson signed the closing documents, including the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, on behalf of American Momentum Bank.

Beginning around June 2012, and continuing through November 2014, Johnson devised a scheme to misapply and embezzle funds provided by American Momentum Bank. After the sale of bank-owned property had been approved by American Momentum Bank, Johnson set up closings with real estate settlement agents. Johnson then contacted the settlement agents and ordered additions and/or changes to the disbursement side of the HUD-1. After closing, funds from American Momentum were misapplied by directing checks to be written or the wiring of funds to bank accounts that were controlled by Johnson’s family members.

Johnson was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore. This case was investigated by the Unites States Secret Service, the Tampa Police Department, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

Rebecca Gheiler, 49, Miami, Florida, was indicted and charged with conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud and six counts of bank fraud.

According to the indictment, Tribute Residential, LLC (“Tribute”), which was controlled by Gheiler, owned and sold condominium communities.  To entice buyers to purchase condominium units in these communities, Gheiler developed a program of incentives.  As part of this program, buyers were promised that Tribute would pay the mortgage and homeowners’ association dues during the buyer’s first two years of occupancy.  Other incentives developed and paid for by Gheiler included upfront cash to close and/or kickbacks to buyers after closing.  During each transaction, the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, signed by Gheiler as the seller, contained falsified information regarding the terms of each transaction, including the actual down payment amount paid by the buyer. In order to conceal the incentives from the mortgage lenders, Gheiler directed her co-conspirator, Angel Garcia-Oliver, to form companies that received monies from Tribute that were eventually paid to buyers and entities controlled by other co-conspirators.

If convicted, Gheiler faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison on each count.  The indictment also notifies Gheiler that the United States is seeking a forfeiture money judgment.

Garcia-Oliver previously pleaded guilty for his role in this case. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 9, 2017.

United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announced the indictment. The case was investigated by Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vincent Chiu and Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

Marek Harrison, 53, Plant City, Florida, Brian Allard,45, Seminole, Florida, and Scot Rounds, 44, Winter Garden, Florida were indicted and charged with bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

According to the indictment, Harrison and Allard created and executed a mortgage fraud scheme involving Saratoga Resort Villas, a condo conversion of a former hotel located in Kissimmee, Florida.  The scheme involved kickbacks of mortgage proceeds to buyers and co-conspirators and misrepresentations regarding the source of down payment funds.  None of the incentives and kickbacks were disclosed to the mortgage lenders.  Harrison and Allard recruited the buyers and found individuals to front down payment money for those buyers.  Rounds, a mortgage broker, brokered the loans for the transactions, recruited straw purchasers, and distributed kickbacks to buyers.

If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison on each count.  The indictment also notifies the defendants that the United States is seeking a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.

The case was investigated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General.  It will be prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor and Assistant United States Attorney Vincent Chiu.

John Vescera, 60, Dana Point, California, was to 12 months and one day of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for false advertising and misusing a government seal in connection with the provision of mortgage modification services. On May 3, 2016, Vescera pleaded guilty to one count of misuse of a government seal and one count of false advertising.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Vescera was the President of First One Lending Corporation (“First One”) in San Juan Capistrano, California.  During the peak of the national mortgage crisis, Vescera and First One offered home mortgage loan modification assistance to homeowners across the United States, including in Connecticut, who were having difficulty repaying their mortgage loans.

From approximately February 2010 until approximately February 2012, Vescera and First One solicited clients through television advertisements and infomercials produced by National Media Connection of New London, Connecticut.  These advertisements touted the mortgage modification services of an entity known as the National Mortgage Help Center (“NMHC”).

Matthew Goldreich, of East Lyme, Connecticut, had incorporated NMHC approximately two months after the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it would partner with financial institutions to reduce struggling homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments through a program called the Home Affordable Modification Program (“HAMP”).  HAMP consisted of a number of incentives to encourage homeowners and financial institutions to modify existing loans on owner-occupied primary residences in order to help keep these properties out of foreclosure.

NMHC advertisements misrepresented NMHC as being affiliated with or regulated by the U.S. government and falsely stated that NMHC “help[ed] thousands of homeowners every day.”  When viewers called the advertised telephone number, they were connected not to NMHC, which operated only as a front and did not provide mortgage modification services for any homeowners, but to clients of National Media Connection, including First One.

Vescera and First One used NMHC’s name and logo in First One’s promotional materials, application package and other documents.  Vescera also instructed First One employees to introduce themselves to prospective clients as “with the National Mortgage Help Center.”

First One also misrepresented its status with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”).  First One employees were instructed to inform homeowners that “[w]e’re a HUD approved lender and we represent the government loan modification programs.”  In addition, certain of First One’s forms claimed that the company provided “HUD . . . Housing Counseling assistance” and bore HUD’s seal.  In truth, First One had no affiliation with the government mortgage loan assistance programs and was not licensed or approved by HUD for housing counseling or home mortgage loan modification services.

Through this scheme, 302 victims lost a total of $374,622.  Many of these victims were previously compensated after Vescera and First One paid approximately $1.5 million to the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America in March 2013 to resolve a federal lawsuit in the Central District of California.  As part of this criminal case, Vescera paid restitution of $30,320 to 24 of the victims who were not identified at the time the federal lawsuit was settled.

Goldreich previously pleaded guilty to one count of false advertising.  On November 5, 2015, he was sentenced to two years of probation, including three months of home confinement.  He also was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine and $75,794 in restitution.

Vescera was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven, Connecticut.  Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut announced the sentence. The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, and Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Avi Perry and Liam Brennan.

Alexander and Sima March fled to Canada after their 2011 indictment on mortgage fraud charges.

Source: Syracuse couple on the run for five years arrested in mortgage fraud case |

Barbara Jean Dennis, 60, Las Vegas, NV, a  former Nevada real estate agent who owned at least 12 rental properties in Nevada and Texas and filed multiple bankruptcy petitions to avoid paying the mortgages, has been sentenced to 11 months in prison, two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 and restitution of $83,000.  She was sentenced on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 by U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson. Judge Dawson also entered an order restricting Dennis from engaging in real estate business during the period she is on supervised release.

Dennis pleaded guilty in February to bankruptcy fraud, admitting that she used the automatic stay provision in bankruptcy proceedings to avoid paying the mortgages, while at the same time, collecting rent from her tenants.  Dennis filed three bankruptcy petitions in the District of Nevada and two in the Southern District of Texas between August 2009 and November 2010. The filing of the bankruptcy petitions caused the bankruptcy court to issue an automatic stay, which prevented the mortgage lenders from filing foreclosure proceedings on her properties during the pendency of the bankruptcy proceedings. Dennis also delayed the bankruptcy cases by failing to appear at hearings and meetings, failing to submit supporting financial documents and other paperwork to the Court, and failing to disclose prior bankruptcy cases. In one case, Dennis filed the bankruptcy petition under a false name and failed to disclose the other petitions and the names under which they had been filed. Over the course of the fraud scheme, from Aug. 31, 2009, through Dec. 17, 2010, Dennis received at least $150,000, but not more than $250,000 in rental income.

As this case demonstrates, the fallout from the housing crisis in Nevada is still impacting federal investigations and prosecutions,” said U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden for the District of Nevada in announcing the sentence.  “The prosecution of these cases typically takes years and requires a significant amount of resources. This sophisticated fraud scheme involved mortgage fraud, bankruptcy fraud, 12 properties in two states, and five bankruptcy petitions.”

The sen case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn C. Newman and investigated by the FBI.



Rachel Siders, 41, Roseville, California, was sentenced to 14 and a half years in prison for her involvement in mortgage fraud schemes that cost financial institutions over $17 million.

Federal juries returned verdicts in two trials, in March 2015 and December 2015 finding her guilty of multiple counts of bank fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, making a false loan application, and committing aggravated identity theft.

According to evidence presented at the first trial, in 2008 Siders and co-defendant Theo Adams, 50, Roseville, California, applied for a home equity line of credit using his relative’s name on an underwater Roseville property owned by Adams. They submitted false tax returns in the relative’s name with significantly inflated income along with mortgage application documents with forged signatures. Siders, a notary public, falsely notarized the loan application documents, which were sent to Washington Mutual Bank. The bank relied upon the false documents to provide a $250,000 line of credit. Siders received $170,000 of the proceeds. After making minimal payments, the defendants defaulted on the loan.

According to evidence presented at the second trial, from mid-2006 through early 2008, Siders and Vera Kuzmenko, 46, Loomis, California, and other defendants engaged in a mortgage fraud scheme involving over 30 properties in the Sacramento area. They secured more than $30 million in residential mortgage loans on more than 30 homes purchased through straw buyers. The loan applications contained materially false information as to the straw buyers’ income, employment, assets, and intent to occupy the residences. Records introduced at trial showed that Vera Kuzmenko received millions of dollars, and that Rachel Siders received hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Vera Kuzmenko, was a licensed real estate agent for part of the scheme, and Rachel Siders ran the Rocklin office of the escrow company used on the majority of the transactions. She helped funnel millions of dollars to her co-defendants, which was not disclosed to the lenders.

U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez imposed the sentence.

On March 15, 2016, Judge Mendez sentenced Vera Kuzmenko to 14 years in prison. She was found guilty of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, money laundering and witness tampering. On April 19, 2016, Theo Adams, 50, of Roseville, was sentenced to two years in prison. Previously, Judge Mendez sentenced co-defendants Peter Kuzmenko, 38, West Sacramento, California, to 19 years in prison; Aaron New, 42, Sacramento, California, to 11 years and three months in prison; Nadia Kuzmenko, 37, formerly of Loomis, California, to eight years in prison; and Edward Shevtsov, 52, North Highlands, California, to eight years in prison. They were found guilty on February 13, 2015, after a 21-day trial, of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud associated with the mortgage fraud scheme. In addition, Peter Kuzmenko, Edward Shevtsov, and Aaron New were found guilty of money laundering associated with the scheme, and Nadia Kuzmenko was found guilty of witness tampering.

The sentence today reflects the seriousness of Siders’ crimes, which included participation in two separate mortgage fraud schemes. Over the course of two years, Siders oversaw and participated in numerous fraudulent loans and diverted money into shell accounts for her own benefit. She abused her position as an escrow officer and as a notary public to make this criminal enterprise succeed,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Talbert. “The sentence imposed is a significant reminder that those who engage in such conduct will be held accountable.”

Today’s sentence sends a clear message; anyone profits from fraudulent mortgage transactions—whether by creating the scheme or facilitating it—will not escape justice,” said Supervisory Special Agent Dan Bryant at the FBI Sacramento field office. “The FBI aggressively pursues those involved in such large-scale, complex financial fraud matters to seek justice for the victims and protect the regional economy.”

Rachel Siders was driven by greed in her participation in this mortgage fraud which targeted the Sacramento area,” said Michael T. Batdorf, Special Agent in Charge, IRS‑Criminal Investigation. “Today’s sentencing is a reminder how serious our courts consider this criminal activity and our commitment in providing financial expertise to our federal partners in these types of crimes.”

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee S. Bickley, Michael D. Anderson, and Matthew D. Segal prosecuted the case.


Denise Bruce, 56, Hingham, Massachusetts, was sentenced  for defrauding mortgage companies in connection with multiple mortgages she obtained on a single residence.  U.S. District Court Senior Judge Douglas P. Woodlock imposed the sentence of two years in prison, five years of supervised release and restitution of $2,810,497.  In May 2016, Bruce pleaded guilty to five counts of bank fraud.

Between 2004 and 2008, Bruce fraudulently obtained five mortgage loans from different banks in amounts ranging from $325,000 to $487,500 on her Hingham property by submitting false information regarding her employment history, income, assets, and debt.  Bruce also filed fraudulent discharges of mortgages with the Plymouth County Registry of Deeds to create the appearance that earlier loans had been paid in full, when in fact, none of the loans had been paid.  In total, Bruce obtained $2,129,000 in proceeds from her fraudulent loans.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Steven Perez, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Region; and Christy Goldsmith Romero, Special Inspector General for the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, made the announcement.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor A. Wild of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.

Domonic McCarns, 41, Irvine, California, was sentenced to 14 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller for conspiracy to commit mail fraud for his participation in a nationwide foreclosure-rescue scam, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

McCarns is the final defendant to be sentenced for a pair of schemes that lured homeowners with the promise to help them avoid foreclosure and repair their credit. Two indictments were brought in 2008. Four defendants were convicted after two jury trials, 13 defendants pleaded guilty, and now, all 17 defendants have been sentenced. On September 9, 2013, Charles Head was sentenced to 35 years in prison, and on October 29, 2014, his brother and fellow leader in the scheme Jeremy Michael Head was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

According to court documents, the defendants solicited homeowners facing foreclosure, and through misrepresentations, fraud, and forgery, substituted straw buyers for the victim homeowners on the titles of properties without the homeowners’ knowledge. These straw buyers were often friends and family members of the defendants, or were solicited on the internet. Once the straw buyers were on title to the homes, the defendants applied for mortgages to extract the maximum available equity from the homes. The defendants then shared the proceeds of the ill-gotten equity and the “rent” that the victim homeowners paid them. Ultimately, the victim homeowners were left with no home, no equity, and with damaged credit ratings.

Initially, the scam focused on distressed homeowners in California before expanding throughout the United States. In the course of the schemes, between January 2004 and June 2006, the defendants obtained over $90 million in fraudulent loans, caused estimated losses of over $50 million, and stole title to over 300 homes.

On December 2, 2013, McCarns was convicted after a five-week trial along with Charles Head, 36, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, (formerly of Los Angeles); and Benjamin Budoff, 49, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Head had been previously convicted in a trial in a nearly four-week trial in May 2013 with his brother Jeremy Michael Head, 34, Huntington Beach, California.

The case was the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael D. Anderson and Matthew Morris prosecuted the case.

Fourteen other defendants have been sentenced:

Elham Assadi, 39, Irvine, California, sentenced to 5 years’ probation with 6 months of home detention;

Leonard Bernot, 50, Laguna Hills, California, sentenced to 18 months in prison;

Akemi Bottari, 36, Los Angeles, California, sentenced to 3 years’ probation with 6 months of home detention;

Keith Brotemarkle, 51, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, sentenced to 5 years, 10 months in prison;

Benjamin Budoff, 49, Colorado Springs, Colorado. sentenced to 4 years in prison;

Joshua Coffman, 37, North Hollywood, California, sentenced to 20 months in prison;

John Corcoran, 61, Anaheim, California, sentenced to 4.5 years in prison;

Sarah Mattson, 33, Phoenix, Arizona, sentenced to 3 years’ probation with 3 months of home detention;

Omar Sandoval, 36, Rancho Cucamonga, California, sentenced to 4 years and 10 months in prison;

Xochitl Sandoval, 37, Rancho Cucamonga, California, sentenced to 8 months in prison;

Lisa Vang, 31, Westminster, California, sentenced to 3 years’ probation;

Andrew Vu, 38, Santa Ana, California, sentenced to 6 months in prison with 6 months of home detention;

Justin Wiley, 37, Irvine, California, sentenced to 18 months in prison, and

Kou Yang, 40, Corona, California, sentenced to 4 years in prison.

Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said, in announcing the sentence: ‘This scheme purposely targeted the financially vulnerable during their time of greatest distress with promises of help. The defendants tricked the victims into handing over their most valuable assets, their homes. Few economic crimes are more reprehensible. This final sentence in this case will bring some measure of justice for their victims.”

In large fraud schemes like the one devised by Charles Head, we can’t forget about the individual homeowners who comprised the millions of dollars in losses,” said Monica M. Miller, Special Agent in Charge of the Sacramento division of the FBI. “Today’s sentencing ends an investigation that has been ongoing for more than 10 years and brings some closure to the innocent people who were victimized by Head’s callous scheme.”

Dominic McCarns and his co-conspirators assured innocent homeowners across the country facing foreclosure that they could turnaround their misfortunes and keep their homes,” said Michael T. Batdorf, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation. “However the defendants had other plans which resulted in one of the most harmful mortgage fraud schemes in the country. The sentence handed down today by the court is befitting of this defendant and his actions.”