Archives For California

William Donnelly Yotty, 69, who currently resides in Monarch Beach, California but during the course of the scheme lived in Lodi, California, pleaded guilty to the federal mail fraud and wire fraud charges for operating a Ponzi scheme that featured false promises of large returns to victims who invested in debt obligations and distressed real estate.

In a plea agreement filed in United States District Court, Yotty admitted that he ran several Lodi-based companies that offered bogus investments in corporate debt obligations and in distressed real estate that he and his salespeople said could be “flipped” for substantial profit. Continue Reading…

Ayman Shahid, 39, Danville, California, pleaded guilty in federal court in Oakland, California to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.  Shahid is the most recent and highest placed individual charged by the Northern District of California U.S. Attorney’s Office as a result of a wide-ranging investigation by the FBI into mortgage fraud in connection with the sale of homes by Discovery Sales, Inc. (DSI), and its affiliates.

Shahid, was the president of DSI, which was the sales arm of affiliated residential construction companies, including Discovery Home Builders and Albert D. Seeno Construction Co.  According to Shahid’s plea agreement, DSI was created to sell new homes built by Discovery Builders, Inc. (“DBI”), Albert D. Seeno Construction Co., Inc. (“AD Seeno”), and other entities affiliated with Albert Seeno III and the Seeno family.  The homes were built in developments throughout the East Bay Area of California, including in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. Continue Reading…

Petaluma man drops bid to avoid paying debt in mortgage fraud case

Trial delayed for former land developer accused in investment scheme

Defense attorneys for a former local real estate developer were granted a continuance Wednesday in Solano County Superior Court over a scheduling conflict.

Attorneys in the case of Richard D. Lamphere were ordered back to court Sept. 1 when a new trial date will be selected. A trial could possibly be set for March 2016, according to courtroom discussions.

Erik Hermann Green, 33, Roseville, California was found guilty by a federal jury after a six- day trial of five counts of wire fraud in a mortgage fraud scheme involving fraudulent loan applications.

According to evidence presented at trial, Green was part of a large-scale mortgage fraud scheme to defraud the New Century Mortgage Company by submitting false documentation about employment, income and assets, including fraudulent loan applications and other altered bank documents. Around November of 2006, when Green submitted his fraudulent loan applications to obtain a loan for $820,000, he was a licensed real estate sales person and managed approximately 15 loan officers. As part of the scheme, Green received a check for $100,000 that was funneled through a shell company at the close of escrow. Green used the funds for personal expenses. Continue Reading…

Moctezuma Tovar, 46, Sacramento, California and Sandra Hermosillo, 53, Woodland, California pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme.

According to court documents, Tovar was the founder and president of Delta Homes and Lending Inc., a Sacramento, California based real estate and mortgage lending company. Delta Homes opened one office in 2003 and eventually had five offices in Sacramento and Woodland, California. As the president of Delta Homes, Tovar managed the day-to-day operations of the company and prepared and submitted residential home loan applications on behalf of Delta Homes’ clients. Hermosillo was a loan officer at the Woodland office and was also responsible for submitting residential home loan applications on clients’ behalf. Continue Reading…

An indictment in a recent SBA case outlines a fraud for commission scheme that could easily occur in mortgage lending.

Jocelyn J. Brown, 59, San Diego, California, a former loan broker for the now-defunct La Jolla Bank, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that she paid kickbacks to the bank’s vice president and Small Business Administration lending department manager.

According to the indictment, Brown paid the bribes in return for the banker’s assurance that the loans Brown referred would be approved and funded, and, more importantly, that Brown’s commissions would keep on flowing. Brown allegedly collected tens of thousands of dollars in referral fees from La Jolla Bank, and kicked back a portion to the bank manager, in cash, every time she was paid, the indictment said. Continue Reading…

Michael J. Stewart, 68, San Clemente, California, the CEO of a now-defunct Southern California real estate investment firm, was found guilty of 11 counts of mail fraud following a nine-day jury trial before United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney.  The charges arose out of a real estate scheme that ended with the bankruptcy of the company and hundreds of investors collectively losing as much as $169 million.

Stewart owned and was the chief executive of Pacific Property Assets (PPA), which had offices in Long Beach and Irvine, California. Along with co-defendant John Packard, Stewart created PPA in 1999 to purchase, renovate, operate, and resell or refinance apartment complexes in Southern California and Arizona. Typically, PPA financed property acquisitions through mortgages, and it raised money from private investors to pay for renovations to the properties. After several years, PPA would refinance (or sometimes sell) each property. Continue Reading…

Brady Bunte, the former owner of an Orange County, California mortgage lending company, pleaded guilty to bank fraud in U.S. District Court in Louisville, Kentucky in a warehouse lending fraud.  Bunte devised a scheme to defraud National City Bank of $12,744,678 of money under its control, by submitting fraudulent funding requests for nonexistent mortgage loans. Continue Reading…

A husband and wife have been charged with stealing over $100,000 from an elderly woman with the assistance of a notary public. Christina Espinosa Aldana, 32, Garden Grove, California; Thalia Lugo-Lainez. 37, Garden Grove, California; and Willmar Lainez, 44, Anaheim, California were each charged with three felony counts of filing a false document and three felony counts of forgery with sentencing enhancement allegations for aggravated white collar crime over $100,000, property loss over $65,000 and theft over $100,000. Lugo-Lainez and Lainez are also charged with two felony counts each of grand theft, two felony counts of theft from an elder, and two felony counts of identity theft. Aldana is also charged with three felony counts of perjury by declaration.

Aldana is a registered notary public certified by the California Secretary of State. She is also employed in a clerical position by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA), but does not provide notary services to OCDA.

Between November 7, 2008, and January 1, 2009, Lugo-Lainez and Lainez are accused of living with the elderly victim, the maternal grandmother of Lugo-Lainez, and forging her name on a second mortgage on her home in Garden Grove, California. Aldana is accused of violating her position of trust as a notary public and knowingly submitting and verifying the false documents. Aldana, Lugo-Lainez, and Lainez are each accused of forging the victim’s signature and information on documents to secure a second mortgage on the victim’s home. Lugo-Lainez and Lainez are accused of taking the money received from the second mortgage and depositing it into their own personal bank accounts, resulting in the victim losing over $75,000.

Additionally, Lainez and Lugo-Lainez are accused of stealing the victim’s personal identifying information in 2014, in order to gain access and control over the victim’s primary bank-account. Lainez and Lugo-Lainez are accused of stealing over $40,000 from that account for their own personal use.

When the victim stopped receiving bank statements in 2014, she contacted the bank and discovered the identity theft.  She immediately reported the identity theft to Garden Grove Police Department, who investigated this case and subsequently arrested the defendants. The victim subsequently passed away in June 2014.

If convicted, Lugo-Lainez and Lainez face a maximum sentence of 11 years and four months in state prison, and Aldana faces a maximum sentence of nine years and four months in state prison. Aldana is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday, August 3, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department W-12, West Justice Center, Westminster, California. Lainez is scheduled to be arraigned on August 5, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in Department W-12. Lugo-Lainez remains a fugitive.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Pete Pierce of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.