Albert Lewis Ellis, 46 Fresno, California, Richard Keith Hanna, 42, Elk Grove, California, and Wrenl Burge, 38, Fresno, California, have been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, three counts of mail fraud, and one count of identity theft. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of all property and proceeds obtained directly or indirectly as a result of such violations.
The indictment alleges that Ellis, Hanna, and Burge, and others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, conspired to fraudulently obtain money from mortgage companies to buy properties for eventual resale or refinancing. The defendants would obtain a social security number belonging to another person and Burge would then obtain a credit report in a co-defendant’s own name but with the victim’s social security number listed on it in order to establish a good credit report.
The indictment alleges that one of the defendants would then apply for a mortgage by signing a mortgage loan application and would make materially false statements by listing the victim’s social security number, listing false and fraudulent employment information, and would include the false credit report. The defendant would then have other persons make material misrepresentations to the mortgage lending institutions by verifying the listed defendant’s falsely reported employment, rental, and financial information as listed on the mortgage loan application. The indictment further alleges that defendants would then cause lenders to fund loans for the purchase and refinance of real properties based on such loan applications. The defendants caused false and fraudulent loan applications to be submitted to seven different lending institutions and as a result of the conduct, the defendants defrauded lenders of in excess of $2 million.
The indictment also charges that between February 2004 and December 2006, Ellis and Hanna used a social security number belonging to another person, when attempting to sell real property in Fresno, California to Hanna who also used a social security number belonging to another person. The title company discovered an outstanding tax lien on the property and the sale was put on hold. On August 24, 2006, Ellis, again using the social security number belonging to another person, deeded the property to a third party who sold the property to Hanna, who again provided another person’s social security number as his own when acquiring mortgage loans totaling $760,000. Seven revolving accounts were established in Hanna’s name using a social security number belonging to another, 16 mortgage loans and four revolving accounts totaling $3,093,932 were established in Ellis’s name using a social security number belonging to another.
United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner made the announcement.
The maximum statutory penalty for the conspiracy charge and each count of mail fraud is 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and up to five years supervised release. The maximum statutory penalty for identity theft is 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and up to five years supervised release. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
This case is the product of an investigation by the United States Secret Service and the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Michele Thielhorn is prosecuting the case.
The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The defendants are scheduled to appear in United States District Court, Fresno, California Division on July 9, 2010 at 1:30 p.m. for arraignment.
This law enforcement action is part of the work being done by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. One component of the FFETF is the national Mortgage Fraud Working Group, co-chaired by U.S. Attorney Wagner. For more information on the task force, visit StopFraud.gov.