Jury Convicts Straw Buyer of Mortgage Fraud

Allison Tussey —  September 2, 2014 — Leave a comment

Anna Sorokina Kuzmenko, 33, Sacramento, California, was convicted by a federal jury after a nine-day trial of two counts of wire fraud in a mortgage fraud scheme for her role in acting as a straw buyer for two loans.

The trial was held before United States District Judge John A. Mendez.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, in February of 2007, Kuzmenko served as a straw buyer for a house in Carmichael, California. She applied for two loans to finance the entire purchase, and falsely represented that she was an orthodontist making $36,000 per month, had $42,000 in her bank account, was a United States citizen, and would live in the house she was purchasing. In fact, evidence at trial showed that Kuzmenko was not an orthodontist, declared only $13,000 in income for 2006 and none for 2007, had little to no money in her bank account, was not a citizen, and never lived in the house she purchased.

The evidence also showed that although the bank was told the sales price was $1 million, the seller had agreed to receive only approximately $800,000 from the transaction and to give the remaining money back to the scheme participants. Bank records showed that Kuzmenko’s husband and other family members received almost $177,000 through the scheme.

Additionally, two of Kuzmenko’s family members received approximately $25,000 in commission payments based on the fraudulently procured loans. Kuzmenko defaulted on the mortgages for the Carmichael house in September 2007 and the property was foreclosed upon by April 7, 2008.

Kuzmenko is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Mendez on December 9, 2014. She faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced the verdict.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Lee S. Bickley and Todd A. Pickles are prosecuting the case.

“Mortgage fraud cases can be very challenging, but this office has developed considerable expertise in prosecuting them,” stated U.S. Attorney Wagner. “We are pleased that the jury held Ms. Kuzmenko accountable for her crime, and we will continue our efforts to hold accountable those who enriched themselves through fraud, and who contributed to the financial meltdown that hit our communities so hard.”

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Allison Tussey

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