Mother Sentenced for Forgery and Straw Buyer Conspiracy

Allison Tussey —  April 23, 2012 — Leave a comment

Sushama Devi Lohia, 74, Newport Beach, California, a mother convicted of conspiring with her two daughters and son-in-law to commit over $16 million in real estate fraud by forging documents and purchasing homes using straw buyers, was sentenced to eight years in state prison.

Lohia pleaded guilty to a court offer Dec. 12, 2011, to 12 felony counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, 27 felony counts of forgery, 12 felony count of grand theft, eight felony counts of failure to file, four felony counts of identity theft, four felony counts of recording false and forged instrument, two felony counts of underreporting income and sentencing enhancement allegations for loss over $100,000, property damage over $3.2 million, and aggravated white collar crime over $500,000.

Co-Defendants

Lohia‘s daughter, Supriti Soni, 51, is charged with nine felony counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, 17 felony counts of forgery, one felony count of identity theft, 12 felony counts of grand theft, with sentencing enhancement allegations for loss over $100,000, property damage over $3.2 million, and aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, and a 2003 prison prior for perjury.

Lohia’s other daughter, Suniti Shah, 50, and Suniti Shah‘s husband, Dinesh Valjeebhai Shah, 62, are both charged with five felony counts of conspiracy to commit a crime, 13 felony counts of forgery, four felony counts of identity theft, four felony counts of recording false and forged instrument, five felony counts of grand theft, and sentencing enhancement allegations for loss over $100,000, property damage over $1.3 million, and aggravated white collar crime over $500,000.

The three co-defendants are scheduled to face jury trial July 25, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Circumstances of the Case

The four defendants are accused of working together to secure loans for straw buyers using forged and false documents.

The Shahs are accused of owning and operating New Age Realty, First Property Escrow, City First Realty, and Associates Investments Group. All these businesses were located at 13821 Newport Avenue, Tustin, California. Soni is accused of owning and operating Vason Development, a business that processed home loan applications. Lohia, a licensed real estate agent, worked out of both offices. The four defendants are accused of using these offices to process fraudulent loans.

Between April 2006 and March 2008, Lohia, Soni, Suniti Shah and Dinesh Shah are accused of conspiring to commit grand theft by recruiting straw buyers through friends and family, as well as their personal employees.

Between June 2006 and October 2009, Lohia, Soni, Suniti Shah and Dinesh Shah are accused of obtaining over 15 fraudulent loans on real estate properties in Orange County through the use of straw buyers’ credit. The four defendants are accused of fabricating loan applications to reflect significantly higher incomes for the straw buyers, supplying altered bank statements to reflect the higher incomes, falsifying employer information on loan documents, and forging the names and signatures of straw buyers on various deeds and loan documents.

They are accused of using the personal and credit information of the straw buyers to complete the fraudulent documents used in obtaining loans. The fraudulent loans were all approved by then-Washington Mutual Bank. In total, the defendants are accused of committing over $16 million in fraud.

Between July 2008 and May 2009, Lohia and the Shahs are accused of filing false and forged documents with the Orange County Clerk-Recorder’s Office to falsely show property transfers.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office began investigating this case after receiving a complaint from a realtor. In the course of the real estate investigation, it was determined that between 2005 and 2008, Lohia had under-reported her income for two years and failed to file taxes for two years.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Doug Brannan of the Major Fraud Unit prosecuted this case.

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Allison Tussey

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