The following 13 defendants are being prosecuted in a Cuyahoga County, Ohio mortgage fraud case that involves one house that sold for $625,000 in Shaker Heights.
Those indicted in the alleged scheme are:
Ayanna N Israel, 29, Middleburg Heights, Ohio, unlicensed loan officer, owner of Avinic Financial Group, Avinic Investment Group, Inc. and Nehkayvah Enterprises, Inc.
Nahum (Jeffery) St. Martin, 33, Middleburg Heights, Ohio, unlicensed mortgage broker, owner of Avinic Financial Group Avinic Investment Group, Inc. and Nehkayvah Enterprises, Inc.
Retina Burke, 44, Euclid Heights, Ohio, borrower
Shirley Rodgers, 70, Independence, Ohio, title company owner
Carla Phillips, 29, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, third-party down payment provider and owner of Blue and Sons Contracting Co.
William Daniel, 39, Cleveland, Ohio, renter
Artis White, 47, University Heights, Ohio, unlicensed mortgage broker
Avinic Financial Group
Avinic Investment Group, Inc.
Blue and Sons Contracting Company, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Regency Title, LTD
Nehkayvah Enterprises, Inc
Ayanna Israel owned a house at 21999 Shelburne Road, Shaker Heights, Ohio. In the fall of 2003, Israel rented the house to William Daniel. Daniel, with the assistance of Artis White, who was acting as his broker, wanted to buy the house, but Daniel did not have good credit. Israel’s live-in boyfriend and business partner, Jeffrey St. Martin knew that Renita Burke had a better credit rating and assisted her in buying this house from Israel for $625,000 on December 31, 2004. Burke then signed a deal with Daniel that granted him the option to buy the house while he continued to live there.
Israel also acted as Burke’s mortgage broker to find a lender to finance a loan of $550,000 needed to close the purchase. Israel and Burke knowingly submitted a fraudulent loan application that inflated Burke’s income, misrepresented her assets, and falsified her employment by stating that she owned Burke Interior, a legitimate company, when in fact she had no connection with this company.
At the time Burke applied for this loan, she was earning about $15 an hour before she lost her job. For those who assisted in this scheme, Daniel received $10,000, White $18,000, Burke $20,000, the mortgage broker firm, Dana Capital Group, where Israel worked before she was discharged, received a $5,000 commission. Each of these parties was indicted.
Based on this fraudulent application, People’s Choice Home Loans, of California, loaned Israel $550,000. To cover the balance of the $625,000 price, Burke was supposed to make a down payment of $70,000. However, St. Martin, Israel and others created a fake paper trail, making it appear to the lender that the $70,000 had been deposited with the title company, Regency Title, owned by Shirley Rodgers to complete the deal. But this money was never part of the transaction; this fake deposit was hidden from the lender.
Rodgers’ title company, which received a fee for this fraudulent deal, along with Carla Phillips and her company, Blue & Son Contracting who were involved in this fraudulent down payment scheme as third-party payment providers. Phillips received $500 for her part in the scam. All of the players in this down payment scam were charged. Prosecutor Bill Mason has also charged Rogers and her company for similar conduct in one of the cases filed in early January.
This scam unraveled when Burke became angry with William Daniel’s failure to move out when he stopped paying his rent and changed the locks a few months after Burke bought the house. Upset, Burke filed a complaint with the Shaker Heights Police, and when a Shaker Heights detective investigated her compliant, he uncovered the scam. The house is now in foreclosure.