Ataollah Aminpour aka John Aminpour, aka Johnny Aminpour, the former chief marketing officer at Mirae Bank, 57, Beverly Hills, California was indicted by a federal grand jury on eight counts of bank fraud and making false statements in connection with allegations that he was responsible for the bank issuing $150 million in fraudulent loans – loans that caused the bank to suffer $33 million in losses and were “a significant factor in Mirae Bank’s failure as a financial institution in 2009.”

According to the indictment, Aminpour held himself out as a successful businessman who could help people obtain financing for gas station and car wash businesses with little or no down payment. In some cases, Aminpour personally identified businesses to be purchased and negotiated a sale price, but he allegedly overstated the actual purchase price to buyers. For these buyers and others whom Aminpour introduced to Mirae Bank, the indictment alleges that Aminpour oversaw the loan process and provided loan officers with information and documentation that contained false facts and figures, including the actual purchase price of the business and the source of the down payment. As a result, Mirae Bank funded inflated loans, with excess funds secretly going to Aminpour, borrowers and/or “hard money lenders” who had surreptitiously provided funds used to make down payments. Continue Reading…

Zalathiel Aguila, 42, Vallejo, California, and Omar Anabo, 53, Vallejo, California pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make false statements on loan applications.

According to court documents, between October 2004 and May 2007, Aguila and Anabo operated Vallejo‑based Capital Access LLC, an entity targeting homeowners facing foreclosure. The defendants’ “Keep Your Home” program purported to be a temporary rescue plan whereby “qualified investors” took over the mortgages while the homeowners paid rent and worked on rebuilding their credit. The defendants convinced homeowners to sign over title to their homes, which were then sold to straw buyers. The straw buyers obtained loans under fraudulent pretenses by claiming on loan applications that, for example, they intended to occupy the homes as primary residences and that no part of the down payment for the purchase was borrowed. In fact, Capital Access provided the down payment amounts, and the straw buyers never intended to live in the properties. The defendants stripped the equity from the homes and used it to pay the operating expenses of Capital Access, additional fraudulent home purchases, monthly housing payments on the homes for a limited period of time, and personal expenses. Continue Reading…

Timothy L. Ritchie, 44, Annapolis, Maryland, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison, followed by 12 months of home detention with electronic monitoring as part of three years of supervised release, for making false statements arising from a real estate closing and was ordered to pay restitution of $1,385,444.83.

In a related case, John L. Davis, real estate agent, 55, Chestertown, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud arising from his participation in the scheme, and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 31, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. Davis admitted that the loss arising from his participation in the scheme is between $400,000 and $1 million.

Ritchie owned and operated Richland Homes, Inc., and was in the business of building, purchasing and selling homes. Continue Reading…

South Jersey lawyer faces prison in mortgage scheme

A Cape May County lawyer faces up to five years in federal prison this month when he is sentenced for conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the purchase of nine North Wildwood condominiums in 2007.

Louis C. Dwyer Jr., who has a law office in Lower Township, pleaded guilty last year to the single count in U.S. District Court in Camden.

Dwyer is a former solicitor and land-use attorney who has appeared before many planning boards across South Jersey.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued Geographic Targeting Orders (GTO) that will temporarily require certain U.S. title insurance companies to identify the natural persons behind companies used to pay “all cash” for high-end residential real estate in the Borough of Manhattan in New York City, New York, and Miami-Dade County, Florida. FinCEN is concerned that all-cash purchases – i.e., those without bank financing – may be conducted by individuals attempting to hide their assets and identity by purchasing residential properties through limited liability companies or other opaque structures. To enhance availability of information pertinent to mitigating this potential money laundering vulnerability, FinCEN will require certain title insurance companies to identify and report the true “beneficial owner” behind a legal entity involved in certain high-end residential real estate transactions in Manhattan and Miami-Dade County. Continue Reading…

Tony Huy Havens, 42, Modesto, California, was sentenced to three years and five months in prison for his role in two mortgage fraud schemes.

Havens had earlier pleaded guilty to committing mail fraud and wire fraud in the two schemes, which were charged in separate criminal cases.

According to the indictment in the first scheme, Havens devised an “advance fee” scheme that targeted victims in at least eight states who were seeking multi-million dollar loans for large construction projects that were in danger of foreclosure. Havens provided the victims with fraudulent documents that showed a third-party lender was prepared to make a loan to the victim. On Havens’ instructions, the victims wire-transferred money into a bank account controlled by Havens to pay in advance certain costs associated with the loans. No loans were ever made. In total, Havens represented that he could arrange at least $1.1 billion in financing for at least 15 victim borrowers, and collected at least $248,750 by wire transfers from these victim borrowers.

According to the indictment in the second scheme, Havens arranged to purchase a single family residence in Modesto using two relatives as straw buyers. He obtained a loan in the name of the straw buyers that exceeded the actual selling price of the property, and arranged to have a portion of the purchase price sent back to him, which he used as the down payment for the purchase.

Havens was ordered to self-surrender to begin serving his sentence on April 4, 2016.

Havens was sentenced by United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill.  The announcement was made by United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner.  The cases were the product of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Housing Financing Agency, Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorneys Mark J. McKeon and Mia Giacomazzi prosecuted the cases.

 

Jason Pond, 38, Spring Hill, Florida, pled guilty to making a false statement in an application to obtain a HUD loan.

According to the plea agreement, on September 28, 2010, Pond purchased his home in Spring Hill, Florida, for $110,000.  Along with his wife, they received a loan of $49,650 from HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program, as a second mortgage on the home.  This loan program would not have required Pond to repay the loan if he lived in the home for 15 years.

In an application to participate in the program, Pond provided false and incomplete information related to his debts, assets, employment, income, and tax returns. One example of a debt that he failed to disclose was a loan that he had received from another government program to obtain a different home. He also did not disclose income he earned from his DJ business, or that he owned certain assets, including two cars and a boat.

Pond faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III and investigated by the HUD Office of Inspector General and the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Adam M. Saltzman.

 

Joseph L. Pasquale, 39, Fort Myers, Florida was found guilty by a federal jury of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and four counts of bank fraud.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Pasquale worked as a real estate sales associate for a brokerage firm based in Cape Coral, Florida. Between October 2007 and March 2008, he was involved in the negotiation and sale of four condominium units at the Arbors of Carrollwood, to clients in California and Massachusetts. Pasquale engaged in a conspiracy to conceal sales incentives from mortgage lenders, which these clients received from the seller, along with private loans that Pasquale made to the buyer-clients enabling them to bring cash to their respective real estate closings. As a consequence of his actions, Pasquale helped to cause a loss of approximately $937,000 to Wells Fargo Bank when the mortgages involved in the case went into foreclosure.

Pasquale faces a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment for each count. His sentencing hearing has been scheduled for April 8, 2016.

The verdict was announced by United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III and was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Housing Finance Agency-Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor and Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.

Robert Jacobsen, 67, formerly of Lafayette, California, was charged with wire fraud and with engaging in financial transactions involving criminally derived proceeds arising out of an alleged scheme to defraud homeowners and mortgage holders

According to the indictment, Jacobsen created a company called “American Brokers’ Conduit Corporation.”  This company was not related to a mortgage originator known as “American Brokers’ Conduit,” which had originated mortgages in the Bay Area and elsewhere.  Jacobsen, through intermediaries, gained control of homes with mortgage liens that secured loans originated by the real “American Brokers’ Conduit,” and then, again through intermediaries, sued the phony “American Brokers’ Conduit Corporation” in court, claiming that the legitimate mortgage liens were invalid. Continue Reading…

Michael Pampalone, former mortgage broker, 32, Elizabeth, New Jersey, was arraigned on an indictment charging him with two counts of wire fraud.

The indictment alleges that Pampalone stole $132,450 from an East Greenbush, New York, man who hired Pampalone to help him obtain a mortgage.  According to the indictment, Pampalone instructed the victim to wire funds to a New Jersey bank account, and then, after the wires were completed, stole the money.

Pampalone faces up to 20 years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, if convicted.  Pampalone, who was indicted on December 23, 2015, was arraigned on January 4, 2016 before Magistrate Judge Daniel J. Stewart.  He was released on a bond pending a trial scheduled for March 7, 2016 before District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino.

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico, and Shelly A. Binkowski, Inspector in Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division.

This case is being investigated by the New York State Police and the United States Postal Inspection Service, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Wayne A. Myers.