Escrow Officer Pleads Guilty to His Role in Cash Back Mortgage Fraud Schemes

admin —  August 14, 2009 — Leave a comment

Christopher S. Bartlemus, 31, Phoenix, Arizona, pleaded guilty to conspiracy counts in two separate indictments on August 10 and August 12, 2009. In one case, Bartlemus pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Wire, Bank and Mail Fraud and in a separate case, to Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud. Sentencing is set before Judge McNamee on November 2, 2009 and Judge Campbell on November 16, 2009.

Bartlemus’ role in the conspiracy stemmed from his position as an escrow officer with Security Title Agency. During the charged conspiracies he facilitated “cash back” at closing to third parties who were unrelated to the transactions. He failed to disclose the assignment of these funds to the lenders. All of the homes where he facilitated a third party assignment, in violation of lender’s instructions, have gone into foreclosure. Bartlemus is cooperating with authorities in the prosecution of others.

A conviction for Conspiracy to Commit Wire, Bank and Mail Fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years, a $1,000,000 fine or both. In determining an actual sentence, Judges McNamee and Campbell will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.

Bartlemus’s plea is part of initiative called “Operation Cash Back” where 40 defendants were indicted and arrested, including many real estate professionals in June 2008. To date, 16 of those defendants have entered guilty pleas.

These investigations in these cases were conducted by Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution is being handled by Kevin M. Rapp, Charles Galbraith and Leta Hollon, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

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