Archives For Florida

Maria Del Carmen Rodriguez, Miami, Florida was charged by Information with Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud on August 29, 2016 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

According to the Information, at least as early as January 2007, Juan Carlos Sanchez, operating Homefirst Realty Group, Inc., began marketing the Marina Oaks Condominiums in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  He was given control of the marketing and increased the sales price of the individual condominium properties by an additional $40,000 per unit.  The buyers were promised incentives that would pay all of their closing costs, refund their initial deposits and pay their monthly condominium association dues.  Buyers were advised they would have no out of pocket expenses, would be paid approximately $30,000 to $40,000 after the transaction closed and that they would not receive 1099s for the incentives.

Rodriguez was encourage to purchase several units with promises of incentives and a rental income program that would cover the monthly mortgage payments.  When buyers purchased multiple units, their loan applications were expedited and sent to different lenders to avoid detection and the multiple purchases were not listed on the other loan applications. Rodriguez bought Unit 503 and Unit 511 at SW 18 Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Rodriguez prepared and caused to be prepared false and fraudulent mortgage applications and related documents that were submitted to lenders.  False statements include representations relating to the funds available for closing, occupancy, real property ownership and rental history.  Rodriguez also prepared false HUD-1’s which falsely represented that the buyers met their cash to close obligations.  In fact, Sanchez and other co-conspirators provided the funds to the closing agent on behalf of the buyer.

Once the mortgage proceeds were sent to the closing agent, a portion of the proceeds were disbursed to one of  Sanchez’ companies, specifically Creative Concepts International which was listed on the HUD-1 as the recipient of a large fraudulent lien payoff.  Sanchez and the closing agent would utilize funds received by or intended for Creative Concepts International to pay the closing costs and buyer incentives to Rodriguez.

 

 

Ravindranauth “Ravi” Roopnarine, 56, Guyana, was sentenced by United States District Judge Jose E. Martinez to 262 months in prison, following his conviction by a federal jury on charges stemming from his leadership and participation in an extensive mortgage fraud scheme.   Following his term of imprisonment, Roopnarine will be placed on supervised release for five years.  Roopnarine was also ordered to pay $9,041,133.46 in restitution to the defrauded lenders and banks.

An indictment charged Roopnarine, Gergawattie “Kamla” Seecharan, Bhaardwaj “Deo” Seecharan and Linda Rovetto for their participation in a mortgage fraud scheme.  The indictment charged Roopnarine with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud.  Roopnarine in mid-2015 waived extradition and returned from Trinidad and Tobago to the Southern District of Florida.

On March 11, 2016, a jury convicted Roopnarine on all three counts.

According to the court documents and statements made in court, Roopnarine recruited and led his co-conspirators in a widespread mortgage fraud scheme involving more than 150 residential real estate properties in Indian River, Miami-Dade, and Orlando-Orange Counties.  Roopnarine, along with Kamla Seecharan and her husband Deo Seecharan, conspired to solicit mainly Guyanese residents of Florida and other States to act as straw buyers on fraudulent mortgage loan applications.  Approximately 80 individuals served as straw buyers of properties in Vero Lake Estates (VLE), in Indian River County, and other developments.  This scheme resulted in the issuance of more than $50 million in fraudulent mortgage loans.  The co-conspirators then used the proceeds to purchase additional properties, fund pre-existing fraudulent mortgage loans, and pay kickbacks to the straw buyers.  In addition, Kamla Seecharan and Rovetto unlawfully diverted more than $3.5 million in mortgage loans from real estate closing escrow accounts to Raviworld New Homes, Inc., a company managed by Roopnarine and Deo Seecharan.

Kamla Seecharan pled guilty to participating in a conspiracy involving more than $50 million dollars in fraudulent mortgage loan funds.  Deo Seecharan and Rovetto each pled guilty to participating in a conspiracy to commit bank fraud involving $3.5 million dollars in diverted real estate escrow funds.

U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez sentenced Kamla Seecharan and Deo Seecharan, to 121 months and 60 months, respectively, in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release.  In addition, Kamla Seecharan and Deo Seecharan were ordered to pay restitution, in the amount of $2,040,343.14 and $9,041,133.46, respectively.  U.S. District Judge Martinez sentenced Rovetto to 42 months in prison.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement. Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI.  Mr. Ferrer also thanked the State of Florida Office of Financial Regulation, Bureau of Finance, West Palm Beach Regional Office for their work on this investigation, and the United States Marshals Service for their assistance with the extradition and return of Roopnarine to Florida from Trinidad & Tobago.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Theodore Cooperstein and James V. Hayes.

Michael L. Johnson, 56, Odessa, Florida, pled guilty to misappropriation of bank funds and embezzlement.  He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison.

According to the plea agreement and court proceedings, Johnson was employed as a Senior Vice President/Special Assets Officer at American Momentum Bank.  In his capacity as a Special Assets Officer, Johnson was responsible for marketing and selling bank-owned properties to investors in order to remove these troubled assets from the bank’s balance sheet.  Johnson signed the closing documents, including the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, on behalf of American Momentum Bank.

Beginning around June 2012, and continuing through November 2014, Johnson devised a scheme to misapply and embezzle funds provided by American Momentum Bank.  After the sale of bank-owned properties had been approved by the bank, Johnson set up closings with real estate settlement agents.  He then contacted the agents and ordered additions and/or changes to the disbursement side of the HUD-1.  After closing, funds provided by American Momentum Bank were directed to bank accounts controlled by Johnson’s family members.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III and the case was investigated by the Unites States Secret Service, the Tampa Police Department and the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor.

 

Nelson Cristiano Machado, Jr. 50, Bradenton, Florida, was found guilty of three counts of wire fraud by a federal jury. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison on each count. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 26, 2016.

According to evidence presented at trial, Machado knowingly participated in a scheme to defraud mortgage lenders.  He entered into a sale contract for the purchase of two residences in Cape Coral, Florida, one for $509,900, and another for $249,900.  In his loan applications, Machado falsely represented his employment, the balance of his bank account, and that each of the homes would be his primary residence. He also failed to disclose to his second mortgage lender that he had already obtained a first mortgage in the amount of $343,000 and second mortgage in the amount of $147,000. Machado also failed to disclose the purchase of another residence located in Fort Myers, Florida for which he had obtained a mortgage in the amount of $189,050.  Relying upon Machado’s false representations, the mortgage lenders approved his loan applications and wired the funds to the designated title agencies for closing.

According to an article in the Bradenton Herald, Machado preached the Portuguese service at the First Assembly of God Church in Bradenton a few nights a week in 2009-2010 before moving to Brazil.

The verdict was announced by United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Yolande G. Viacava.

Mayory Calvo, 34, Doral, Florida was indictedand charged with one count of mortgage fraud conspiracy, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of loan and credit application fraud. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison on each charge.  The indictment also notifies Calvo that the United States is seeking a money judgment (forfeiture) for the proceeds of the charged offenses.  The indictment was returned in open court on May 4, 2016 but was sealed.  The indictment was unsealed on May 13, 2016.  Calvo was arraigned and pled not guilty on June 17, 2016.  Trial is currently scheduled to commence the week of August 1, 2016 before Judge Steven D. Merryday.

According to the indictment and court proceedings, Calvo worked at Elite Mortgage Funding as a sales associate and assisted with the processing of mortgage loans associated with the purchase of properties in Pasco County, Pinellas County and Hillsborough County, Florida. She also lived, for a time, in Hillsborough County, Florida, and signed loan applications to obtain mortgage loans through Elite Mortgage for properties that she purchased.

The indictment alleges that Calvo participated in a mortgage fraud conspiracy, along with Jesus Sira aka Jay Sira (the incorporator and initial president and secretary of Elite Mortgage), Nestor Urdaneta-Gonzalez, and others.  The indictment further alleges that one or more conspirators agreed to purchase properties in exchange for a fee or commission; completed, executed and submitted the FNMA 1003 application containing false and fraudulent information concerning the applicant borrowers, purpose of the loan, source of down payment, employment information and/or monthly income; caused the property seller to execute a disbursement letter directing a material portion of the sales proceeds be disbursed to First Financial Consulting which would be submitted to title companies; executed HUD-1’s with false information or that failed to include important disbursement information; and distributed or shared funds acquired during the conspiracy often using bank accounts in the names of First Financial Consulting or Elite Mortgage.  According to the press release, the agreements to purchase properties were for amounts in excess of the original asking price.

The indictment reflects a specific transaction at 30401 Colthurst Street, Wesley Chapel, Florida, 33544 for a loan of $241,764 through National City Bank that was applied for by Mayory Calvo wherein it was falsely represented that she intended to use the property as her primary residence, she was a single woman (she was actually married to Jesus Sira), and a U.S. Citizen (she was a permanent resident), and that she was being paid $11,211 in monthly base employment income by Elite Mortgage.

The case was announced by United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III and 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 Trezevant.  The case is pending in the Middle District of Florida as case number 8:16-cr-00195.

Leigh Fiske, 52, formerly of Tampa, Florida, was indicted and charged with two counts of bank fraud. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison on each count.

According to the indictment, Fiske submitted two fraudulent financial instruments to the servicer and the bank trustee of a mortgage that he had used to finance the purchase of property in Tampa, Florida in 2005. The fraudulent instruments and accompanying documentation directed the financial institutions, both of which had received funds from the Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, to apply the face value of the instruments to his outstanding mortgage debt in separate attempts to extinguish that obligation. In truth, neither instrument had or conveyed anything of monetary value. The intended loss of the scheme was over $650,000.

In March 2016, Fiske was indicted in a separate fraud case for a scheme in which he allegedly funneled monies obtained from counterfeit or altered business checks through a trust account that he had created for a shell company he controlled. That case is pending trial.

United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announced the indictment. The case was investigated by the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Eric K. Gerard.

Jason Martin, 36, Orange County, California, pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud conspiracy involving bank and wire fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to court documents, in 2005, entities controlled by co-conspirators entered into a contract to purchase The Arbors, an apartment complex in Hillsborough County, Florida. The new owners then engaged in a plan to convert the complex from rental apartments to condominium units. The co-conspirators engaged in a scheme to defraud mortgage lenders by developing a set of incentives, such as rental supplements, payment of homeowner’s association fees, and kickbacks to the buyers after closing. These buyer incentives were deliberately hidden from the lenders.

Martin’s role in the conspiracy, as a mortgage broker, involved originating mortgages through Envision Lending and Set 2 Go Loans. The loan applications submitted by Martin contained material misrepresentations, including false occupancy and inflated borrower income and asset information. These loan applications were submitted to FDIC insured institutions and other mortgage lenders.  Additionally, through his company HUMAR Investments, Martin and his co-conspirator provided borrowers with cash to close without disclosing the payments to the lenders.

United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announced the plea.  The case 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 Hoffer.

Gary Hughes, 36, San Diego, California, pled guilty to one count of mortgage fraud conspiracy involving bank fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment.

According to the plea agreement and court proceedings, in 2005, entities controlled by co-conspirators entered into a contract to purchase The Arbors, an apartment complex in Hillsborough County, Florida. The new owners of The Arbors then engaged in a plan to convert the complex from rental to condominium units. Continue Reading…

Gary Blankenship, 45, St. Petersburg, Florida, was sentenced to eight months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. He pleaded guilty on February 4, 2016.

According to his plea agreement, in 2005, entities controlled by co-conspirators entered into a contract to purchase The Arbors, an apartment complex in Hillsborough County, Florida. The new owners then engaged in a plan to convert the complex from rental apartments to condominium units.

Blankenship’s co-conspirator, Brendan Bolger, aided the developers in the sale of numerous condominium units through his company, Capital Management Guarantee, LLC. In order to induce buyers to purchase units, Bolger created an addendum to the purchase contract offering buyers various incentives, such as rental supplements, money to defray maintenance costs, and a design credit to upgrade the units’ amenities. When the buyers cancelled the design credit within 10 days of signing the addendum, Bolger paid them a kickback from his company’s bank account for the amount of the design credit. Blankenship’s role in the conspiracy as a realtor consisted of marketing The Arbors units by promising buyers undisclosed incentives. In this manner, Bolger, Blankenship and other co-conspirators failed to disclose material facts to buyers’ mortgage lenders about the financing of the condominium sales.

Blankenship was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James S. Moody. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor and Assistant United States Attorney Jay Hoffer.

Stevie McDonald, 41, Winter Haven, Florida was indicted and charged with multiple counts of bank fraud and a conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

According to the indictment, McDonald participated in a conspiracy to defraud federally insured financial institutions in connection with multiple residential mortgage loans made by JP Morgan Chase Bank and Washington Mutual Bank. Along with others, McDonald was involved in the submission of false and fraudulent information to the lenders, which induced the lenders to make the mortgage loans. Subsequently, the recipients of these loans defaulted on those mortgages and the banks sustained losses of approximately $509,221.

If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison for each count. The indictment also notifies the defendant that the United States is seeking a money judgment in the amount of $509,221, the approximate loss amount that the financial institutions sustained in this case.

The unsealing of the indictment was announced by United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III.  The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.