Archives For Texas

Barbara Jean Dennis, 60, Las Vegas, NV, a  former Nevada real estate agent who owned at least 12 rental properties in Nevada and Texas and filed multiple bankruptcy petitions to avoid paying the mortgages, has been sentenced to 11 months in prison, two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 and restitution of $83,000.  She was sentenced on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 by U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson. Judge Dawson also entered an order restricting Dennis from engaging in real estate business during the period she is on supervised release.

Dennis pleaded guilty in February to bankruptcy fraud, admitting that she used the automatic stay provision in bankruptcy proceedings to avoid paying the mortgages, while at the same time, collecting rent from her tenants.  Dennis filed three bankruptcy petitions in the District of Nevada and two in the Southern District of Texas between August 2009 and November 2010. The filing of the bankruptcy petitions caused the bankruptcy court to issue an automatic stay, which prevented the mortgage lenders from filing foreclosure proceedings on her properties during the pendency of the bankruptcy proceedings. Dennis also delayed the bankruptcy cases by failing to appear at hearings and meetings, failing to submit supporting financial documents and other paperwork to the Court, and failing to disclose prior bankruptcy cases. In one case, Dennis filed the bankruptcy petition under a false name and failed to disclose the other petitions and the names under which they had been filed. Over the course of the fraud scheme, from Aug. 31, 2009, through Dec. 17, 2010, Dennis received at least $150,000, but not more than $250,000 in rental income.

As this case demonstrates, the fallout from the housing crisis in Nevada is still impacting federal investigations and prosecutions,” said U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden for the District of Nevada in announcing the sentence.  “The prosecution of these cases typically takes years and requires a significant amount of resources. This sophisticated fraud scheme involved mortgage fraud, bankruptcy fraud, 12 properties in two states, and five bankruptcy petitions.”

The sen case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn C. Newman and investigated by the FBI.

 

 

Edgar Avila aka Michael Mendez aka Michael Edgar Avila-Mendez, aka Michael AvMen was indicted on one charge of mail fraud and one charge of bank fraud in connection with two separate fraud schemes.

According to the affidavit in support of the arrest warrant, in January 2014, Avila submitted a loan application to purchase a residence at 2915 Legend Hill Drive, Katy, Texas.  On the application, he represented that he worked for AvMen Entertainment at 924 Town and County 800, Houston for a year and a half as a line producer with a salary of $13,600 per month.  He also stated he attended Devry College of Business from September 2009 through May 2013 to account for his history prior to working at AvMen. Paystubs along with a VOE faxed to the mortgage company confirmed this employment. The officer attesting to the affidavit stated that he was unable to find a legitimate business under the name AvMen and discovered that Avila created the entity as part of his fraud scheme.  An assumed name certificate for AvMen was filed in August 2010 using the same address as listed on Avila’s driver’s license.  The affiant also stated that he confirmed through several sources that Avila and Michael Avmen were the same person. Avila’s disclosed bank accounts did not reveal any income associated with AvMen – nor did they substantiate income nearing $13,000 per month.

To support his claims of attending Devry University, according to the affidavit, Avila submitted a college transcript containing the signature of John J. Getek, as college registrar.  Investigation showed that the Getek was not registrar for Devry, instead, in 2001 he was the Deputy Inspector General of Audit for the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General – and Getek’s digital signature was available online from his annual reports to Congress.

In March 2015, according to the affidavit, Avila defaulted on the loan.  In September 2015, the mortgage lender modified the loan and negotiated a payment plan, based on a statement from Avila that he was diagnosed with “cephalic neuralgias” and “Bell’s palsy.”  He claimed his illness caused him to lose his job and that his current job did not pay the same.  The affiant stated that while he could not rule out an illness, Avila was arrested by the Houston Police Department in 2015 “which is the more likely reason for his sudden lack of income.”

The loan was guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

The affidavit also details a vehicle related fraud scheme underlying the mail fraud charges where Avila allegedly provided a fake social security card, false Texas driver’s license and fake Devry University transcript to obtain a vehicle loan. According to the affiant, he then cleared title to the vehicle through a mechanic’s lien sale to himself and sold the vehicle to a Lexus dealership.

Hugo O. Parra, 43, Cypress, Texas; Carmen P. Turner, 55, Missouri City, Texas; LaTasha Riles, 47, Huntsville, Texas; Leslie Nicole Breaux, 40, Sugar Land, Texas; and Jermaine S. Thomas, Houston, Texas 40; Angelina Gailey, 57, Houston, Texas; and Patrick Lee Gailey, 25, Houston, Texas were each charged by a federal grand jury in separate indictments alleging the individuals filed multiple bankruptcy cases to prevent creditors from initiating foreclosure proceedings against their properties. All defendants are expected to appear before a U.S. magistrate judge in the near future.

The individuals are each charged with filing multiple bankruptcy cases to obtain an “automatic stay” from the bankruptcy courts which would prevent their creditors from initiating foreclosure proceedings against property for which they had outstanding loans.

Each defendant filed multiple bankruptcy cases to prevent a foreclosure proceeding by their creditors, according to the indictments. Each time a creditor would issue a “Notice of Foreclosure,” the defendants would allegedly file a bankruptcy case in order to obtain an automatic stay of the foreclosure. The charges allege that they would take no further action to abide by the requirements of the court to file additional documents and submit a payment plan to the court to pay their debts under the protection of the bankruptcy laws. Following a 45-day-period of no action by the defendants, their cases would be dismissed, according to the indictments.

The number of bankruptcy cases the defendants allegedly filed ranged from four within less than two years to 12 over a five-year-period.

The defendants did not make any payments to their creditors under a court approved payment plan, according to the charges. Additionally, each time a defendant filed a bankruptcy case, he/she allegedly failed to list all of the cases they had previously filed. They also signed each filing as being true and correct under penalty of perjury, according to the indictments.

Each person is charged with bankruptcy fraud-scheme to defraud and making false declarations under penalty of perjury. If convicted of either charge, they face up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

The indictments were announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.The FBI conducted the investigations with the assistance of the U.S. Trustee’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Quincy L. Ollison is prosecuting the cases.

The Cameron County, Texas District Attorney’s Office dismantled a county-wide real estate scheme that defrauded its victims out of more than $400,000 from 2013 through 2015.  Dubbed “Operation Surreal Estate”, the investigation began in July 2015 when victims contacted the District Attorney’s Office for help.

The several-month-long investigation uncovered a crime ring, led by Allan Ramirez Rodriguez, 27, Brownsville, Texas, who convinced real estate buyers to invest in and/or purchase properties. False deeds were provided to the investors for properties Rodriguez and his accomplices never owned. Organizers of the scheme even attended public real estate auctions to provide an appearance of legitimacy.  Rodriguez was charged with three counts of theft of property, three counts of engaging in organized criminal activity and securing execution of a document by deception.  Rodriguez has not been taken into custody.

In addition to Rodriguez, those involved in the organized criminal activity were: Continue Reading…

“You can have whole neighborhoods that are economic wipeouts. Who did it really help? The builder. He got his sale.”

Richard Hagar, national expert on mortgage fraud, explaining the effect of builder bailouts to The Dallas Morning News

Laurie Mayfield, aka Laurie H. Scott, 54, Fredericksburg, Texas, former D’Hanis State Bank president, admitted that she filed fraudulent bank regulating reports which overestimated the bank’s assets.

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Five defendants have been sentenced for their roles in a mortgage fraud conspiracy perpetrated in the Eastern District of Texas involving illegal property flipping, falsification of documents, including HUD-1 Settlement Statements, down payment fraud, and loan application misrepresentations.

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Andre Lamont Chenier, 41, Houston, Texas, has been arrested on allegations he engaged in an eight-year bank fraud, identity theft and money laundering scheme. Chenier allegedly submitted a personal financial statement that listed fictitious assets as well as tax returns that contained the Social Security number of someone else.

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Five defendants have been sentenced for their roles in a mortgage fraud conspiracy involving down payment fraud in the Eastern District of Texas.

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Kirk Smith, Harris County, Texas, has been ordered to prison following his conviction for defrauding seven different Houston, Texas-area banks of more than $2 million in 2007 and 2008 with a check kiting scheme, which allowed him to use inflated account balances to qualify for loans and lines of credit. Continue Reading…