Real Estate Agent Sentenced for Equity Skimming

Allison Tussey —  January 31, 2012 — 1 Comment

Robinson Dinh Nguyen, 31, Fresno, California, was sentenced by United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill to 27 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $433,000 in restitution for conspiring to commit mail, wire and bank fraud in connection with his employment as a real estate agent for Crisp & Cole Associates.

In pleading guilty on October 7, 2011, Nguyen admitted that between January 2004 and September 2007, he and his co-conspirators defrauded mortgage lenders and banks by submitting false and fraudulent statements in mortgage loan applications and related documents to obtain loans for straw buyers and others purchasing property.

According to court documents, Nguyen and others bought, sold, and refinanced real estate in order to skim equity from the properties. They did this through an elaborate use of straw buyers and other borrowers, including his co-defendants and others, to buy, refinance, and sell properties amongst themselves. Through this scheme, they rapidly inflated the nominal value of the properties, while typically using close to 100 percent financing in order to extract the inflated equity amounts on each transaction.

In perpetrating this fraud, Nguyen caused false loan applications to be submitted to lenders with misstatements concerning the borrowers’ income, assets, and employment, and false statements concerning the borrowers’ intent to reside in the properties as owner-occupiers, and other misstatements and omissions. Many of the properties purchased with the loan proceeds were subsequently foreclosed upon after loan payments were not made when due.

The remaining co-defendants are awaiting trial and are next scheduled to appear before United State District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on February 27, 2012. They are: David Marshall Crisp, Carlyle Lee Cole, Julie Dianne Farmer, Sneha Ramesh Mohammadi, Jayson Peter Costa, Jeriel Salinas, Michael Angelo Munoz, Jennifer Anne Crisp, and Caleb Lee Cole. The charges against them are only allegations and they are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Five others have pleaded guilty in related cases: Kevin Sluga, a CPA who handled accounting matters for Crisp & Cole; Jerald Teixeira and Christopher Stovall, former loan officers for Crisp & Cole‘s lending affiliate, Tower Lending; Megan Balod; and Leslie Sluga.

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced the sentence.

This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stanley A. Boone and Kirk E. Sherriff are prosecuting the case.

Mortgage fraud is a priority area for the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.  For more information on the task force, visit StopFraud.gov.

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Allison Tussey

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One response to Real Estate Agent Sentenced for Equity Skimming

  1. The prosecution of this case took way too long because of understaffing and uneducated agents with the FBI. The sad part of this prosecution is that there were two appraisers that falsely inflated values on 134 + properties, yet the US Attorney let them go “scott free” without prosecution. What’s it going to take to make the Feds realize that you can’t have this type of fraud without falsely inflated appraisals. What’s even worse is that the state licensure board did not revoke their licenses. So much for FIRREA enforcement.

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