Archives For Kickbacks

Michael Barnett, real estate developer, pled guilty to conspiring to defraud lenders and make false statements to HUD in connection with his development of Vineyard Commons, a luxury residential complex in Ulster County, New York.

According to Barnett’s admissions in court during his plea allocution and the allegations made in the Superseding Indictment:

Barnett, who was the developer of Vineyard Commons, sought kickbacks and investments from subcontractors and vendors on the project and made false statements to the project’s lender so that he could draw down on the project’s line of credit. Barnett arranged with two executives of a vendor who provided rough carpentry and lumber supplies on the project (the “Lumber Company”) to have the Lumber Company pay Barnett a kickback in exchange for Barnett’s award to the Lumber Company of the Vineyard Commons contract, as well as future business on other developments Barnett was planning. To raise funds for the kickback, Barnett and the two Lumber Company executives agreed that the Lumber Company would inflate its bid for labor and materials by approximately $865,000. Continue Reading…

Anthony Salcedo, mortgage broker, 34, Fair Oaks, California, was sentenced to five years and four months in prison for a mortgage fraud scheme. Salcedo was found guilty by a federal jury of one count of conspiracy and four counts of mail fraud after a five-day trial in June 2015. Continue Reading…

Sean McClendon, 49, Elk Grove, California, was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison.

On October 18, 2012, McClendon pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit mail fraud for his involvement in a Sacramento, California area mortgage fraud scheme with Anthony Salcedo and Anthony Williams. According to court documents, McClendon and Williams recruited straw buyers to purchase four properties owned by Salcedo or his associates using kickbacks, false financial information for the buyers, and payments outside of escrow.

All properties involved were foreclosed by the lenders, resulting in losses of over $1 million.

In June 2015, a jury found Salcedo guilty of four counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 12, 2015. On January 29, 2015, Williams was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison.

United States District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. sentenced McClendon.  The case is the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Jean M. Hobler and Marilee Miller are prosecuting the case.

Hubert Rotteveel, 52, Dixon, California was sentenced  to three years and four months in prison for one count of mail fraud, .

In September 2014, Rotteveel was found guilty by a federal jury of one count of mail fraud relating to 13 properties in Dixon. According to evidence produced at trial, Rotteveel acted as a real estate salesperson for the 13 properties, with over $7 million in loans authorized for just two buyers in seven months. He inflated the values of the properties and worked with loan officers to provide false information to lenders about the income and liabilities of the buyers to induce the lenders to fund loans for the properties. Rotteveel surreptitiously made the down payments on the homes, instead of the buyers, and got that money (and usually more) back from the lenders at closing. For most of the transactions, when the sales closed, the escrow officer distributed funds to a bank account in the name of Windmill Properties, a company owned by Rotteveel, without disclosing these payments to the lenders. All 13 properties were used as rentals, with Rotteveel collecting the rents through Windmill Properties. He netted over $300,000 through the sales in just seven months, and the lenders lost more than $3 million when all 13 properties underwent foreclosure.

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner stated: “Hubert Rotteveel used his knowledge of the real estate market in Dixon to defraud lenders of over $7 million, resulting in losses of over $3 million after each of the homes went into default and a foreclosure sale was held. Today’s sentence is one step in the continuing effort to hold real estate professionals responsible for their role in the mortgage meltdown.”

This prosecution should serve as a warning to those who abuse their position of trust,” said Thomas McMahon, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation. “Mr. Rotteveel manipulated the MLS listings for properties, failed to disclose his true role in the transactions and made numerous misrepresentations to lenders.  Although this sentence cannot reverse the damage caused by Mr. Rotteveel, it highlights the ongoing commitment of IRS-CI to hold accountable those involved in these types of crimes.”

Rotteveel was sentenced by Senior United States District William B. Shubb.   The case was the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Jean M. Hobler and Justin L. Lee prosecuted the case.

Christopher Brecciano, 37, of Stamford, Connecticut was sentenced  to 14 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiring to defraud financial institutions through an extensive mortgage fraud scheme that involved dozens of properties in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

According to court documents and statements made in court, between 2006 and 2010, Brecciano, while working as an associate at a Stamford law firm, participated in mortgage fraud conspiracy that involved the purchase of numerous single and multi-family properties, primarily in Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford, Connecticut. Brecciano acted as a closing attorney for at least 50 mortgage loan transactions in which materially false information was provided to mortgage lenders by Brecciano or his co-conspirators. The fraudulent information included false verifications of down payments for real estate transactions, false deeds, and false HUD-1 Forms. In many of the transactions, Brecciano knew that the borrower was a “straw buyer,” and that other individuals intended to control the property and collect rent from the property. In many transactions, Brecciano distributed mortgage loan funds to the straw buyer and other co-conspirators at the closing. Continue Reading…

Hector Hernandez, 57, Miami, Florida, the owner and operator of Great Country Mortgage Bankers (Great Country), a mortgage lender in Miami, Florida, was sentenced to serve 135 months in prison  for conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution for orchestrating a $64 million mortgage fraud scheme.  He was also ordered to pay $64,508,141 in restitution and to forfeit $8,000,000 in illicit profits.

In the same case, a real estate developer for Great Country, Aleida Fontao, 62, Miami, Florida, was sentenced to serve 41 months in prison, and ordered to pay $7,131,952 in restitution and $400,000 in forfeiture.  An underwriter for Great Country, Olga Hernandez, 59, Lake Mary, Florida, was sentenced to serve 51 months in prison and ordered to pay $24,512,755 in restitution.  Hector and Olga Hernandez both pleaded guilty on July 13, 2015, while Fontao pleaded guilty on July 7, 2015.  Hector Hernandez was the last defendant to be sentenced in the case.  All 24 defendants charged in this case, which included loan officers, loan processors and underwriters, were convicted of participating in the scheme. Continue Reading…

Brendan Bolger, 41, Chicago, Illinois, was sentenced to two years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit bank, wire, and mail fraud in connection with a Condo Conversion Scheme. The Court also entered a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $13,641,197.90, which represents the fraud perpetrated on the mortgage lenders. Bolger pleaded guilty on August 20, 2014.

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 of The Arbors then engaged in a plan to convert the complex from rental apartments to condominiums. The developers financed their purchase of The Arbors with a loan from Corus Bank, a financial institution whose deposits were insured by the FDIC. The Corus loan agreement set forth substantial financial penalties for the developers if they failed to satisfy the loan requirements. Continue Reading…

Nathan Shane Wolf, 44, Charlotte, North Carolina and John Wayne Perry, Jr., 34, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Purnell Wood, 44, were sentenced on federal racketeering charges in connection with their roles in the Operation Wax House fraud scheme.

Wolf, a licensed real estate agent, was sentenced to seven years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Wolf was convicted by a jury in October 2013. According to trial evidence, Wolf was a participant in the enterprise’s mortgage fraud operations, accounting for over $13 million in fraudulently-obtained loans, with losses of more than $7 million. Witnesses testified that Wolf arranged for builders of luxury real estate to pretend to sell such real estate at an inflated price – what Wolf called the “gross price” – in order to get an inflated mortgage loans from a bank. In reality, the builders accepted the true, lower, price – what Wolf called the “strike price” – while Wolf arranged for the difference between the inflated price and the true price to be paid from the loan proceeds as kickbacks. Such kickbacks were funneled through sham companies and disguised to look like payments for work actually done on the real estate. Trial evidence established that the work was never done, but instead these kickbacks were payments to the buyers and promoters who helped bring the parties to the fraud together. According to the evidence at trial, the kickbacks generally ranged from approximately $50,000 to almost $600,000. According to the sentencing hearing, Wolf received more than $200,000 in commissions on the fraudulent transactions, which represented the vast majority of his income during the years he was committing fraud. Continue Reading…

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…

Michael St. Claire, 36, Skaneateles, New York was sentenced to six months in prison, an additional four months of home confinement, and ordered to pay $1,257,945 in restitution in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme which resulted in losses of more than $1 million to lenders. St. Claire previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Continue Reading…