Archives For Florida

Lawrence Foster, 50, Miami Beach, Florida, was sentenced to 152 months’ imprisonment for conspiring to commit wire fraud and committing substantive counts of wire fraud, and was ordered to pay over $8 million in restitution.  The Court also ordered the forfeiture of over $1 million that was seized by federal law enforcement.

Foster was convicted of all counts after a jury trial for his role in defrauding over 100 investors of over $8 million dollars.  Foster fraudulently promised investors that his company, Paradise is Mine, was developing land in the Bahamas. Continue Reading…

When I spoke at the American Association of Mortgage Regulators Conference (AARMR) last week in New Orleans, I commented on the fact that, due to heightened underwriting requirements in mortgage lending, origination frauds are more distant from the file.  What does this mean?  It means that the fraud itself is occurring through third party manipulation that is virtually impossible to discover by a simple review of the mortgage documents. One of the methods I used as an example is credit manipulation. A recent guilty plea out of Miami-Dade illustrates this trend.  In this case, a Miami-Dade police officer accepted money to create false police reports reflecting that credit repair customers had reported that they were the victims of identity theft.  In such cases, negative credit reporting is blocked.  Paying $1,500 for credit repair is generally worthless.  But, couple that with a  police officer in your back pocket?  Priceless.

George Price, 42, a Miami-Dade Police Officer, Miami-Dade, Florida, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1349, an offense punishable by up to twenty years in prison. Continue Reading…

Gary Blankenship, 44, St. Petersburg, Massachusetts was indicted in the Middle District of Florida and charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, and bank fraud. The indictment alleges a zero down mortgage fraud for condominiums involving buyer kickbacks and incentives.

According to the indictment 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 then engaged in a plan to convert the complex from rental apartment units to condominium units.

Blankenship’s co-conspirator, Brenden 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 The Arbors 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 real estate agent consisted of marketing The Arbors units by promising buyers that they would not be required to provide any money at closing, actually providing cash for borrowers to close on the units, facilitating the payment of kickbacks to his clients via Capital Management Guarantee, and facilitating the submission of false loan applications to FDIC-insured financial institutions, or their subsidiaries. In this manner, Bolger, Blankenship, and other co-conspirators failed to disclose material facts to the buyers’ mortgage lenders about the financing of the condominium sales.

He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment for each charge.

Bolger previously pleaded guilty his role in the conspiracy. His sentencing is scheduled for September 18, 2015. 

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.

 

Ricardo Martinez, Coral Gables, Florida was arrested and charged with multiple felony counts which included a scheme to defraud, mortgage fraud, and unlawful promises to provide insider-information.  He is accused of kickback extortion.

Martinez was employed in South Florida as an asset manager for a large financial holdings corporation. Investigators from the FBI and Okaloosa County Sherriff’s Office learned that Martinez tried to extort a local business person to send money in the form of “kickbacks” to Martinez personally from the sale of the corporation’s real estate properties in Okaloosa County, Florida.

During an undercover “sting” operation, Investigators sent funds requested by Martinez to his private address in South Florida.  Martinez accepted the funds personally and he made efforts to conceal the money from all official real estate closing documents. Further, Martinez promised to provide other financial benefits to a local individual in exchange for the same “kick-back” agreement in the future.

The joint effort was successful due to ongoing partnerships between local and Federal authorities targeting fraudulent acts affecting the citizens of Okaloosa County.

Hector Hernandez, real estate developer and owner of a mortgage company, 57, Miami, Florida; Aleida Fontao, co-owner of a mortgage company, 62, Miami, Florida; and Olga Hernandez, senior mortgage underwriter, 58, Lake Mary, Florida, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution in connection with an FHA mortgage fraud scheme involving federally insured mortgages that caused losses of $64 million to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).  Including these defendants, 25 individuals have pleaded guilty to offenses related to this scheme to date..  Hector and Olga Hernandez both pleaded guilty on July 13, 2015, while Fontao pleaded guilty on July 7, 2015.  As part of his plea, Hector Hernandez also agreed to forfeit $8 million, which amounts to his profits from the scheme.

Hector Hernandez’s mortgage company, Great Country Mortgage Bankers, specialized in mortgage loans that were insured by the FHA. Continue Reading…

Stavroula Mendez, 68, real estate developer, was sentenced to 135 months in prison; Lazaro Mendez, 42, real estate developer, was sentenced to 108 months in prison; and Marie Mendez, 49, real estate developer, was sentenced to 57 months in prison in connection with their roles in a mortgage fraud scheme that caused losses of $27.8 million.  U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz of the Southern District of Florida also ordered each of the defendants to forfeit $35,252,331 in fraudulent proceeds and to pay $21,240,064 in restitution.  In November 2014, all three defendants were convicted of wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy.  Eleven other co-conspirators were previously convicted of fraud in connection with the scheme. Continue Reading…

Richard Michael Colbert, Attorney, Florida, was indicted and charged with conspiracy to commit bank or mail fraud, loan application fraud, theft or embezzlement by a bank officer and money laundering.

The indictment alleges a short sale scheme whereby the owner of property negotiates with the original lender holding the mortgage to sell the property to a person whom the original lender believes is a bona-fide purchase but who is, in fact, a straw buyer.  The straw buyer, who is typically paid for used of his personal identification information and who is assured he will have no responsibility for the property or the new mortgage, negotiates a purchase price substantially less than the amount owed the lender. On the date that the short sale closes, a second sale of the property at an inflated price occurs to a second buyer.  Continue Reading…

Ravindranauth “Ravi” Roopnarine, 55, Guyana, was indicted on charges stemming from his leadership and participation in an extensive mortgage fraud scheme, which 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.

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Julian Martin Gaspar Vazquez, 52, Mexico, was sentenced on May 22, 2015, by United States District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas, to forty-one months imprisonment, to be followed by five years of supervised release for executing a $4 million dollar bank fraud scheme.

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Mark Yaffe, 55, Tampa, Florida, has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud admitting his role in misrepresenting the extent of company collateral to Sovereign Bank in order to borrow $35 million.

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