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Lawyer Gets Seven Years for Mortgage Fraud

SEP 12, 2013 5:21pm ET
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LAS VEGAS LAWYER GETS OVER SEVEN YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR MORTGAGE FRAUD

FACTS

On Sept. 5, Gerry Zobrist was sentenced to 87 months in prison for his involvement in a mortgage fraud scheme that caused more than $30 million in losses to lenders.

Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, stated “Mortgage fraud contributed to the decimation of real property values in Nevada. Since 2008, we have been working vigilantly with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute these fraudsters Hundreds of individuals have been convicted, including lawyers, real estate agents, real estate brokers, loan officers, loan processors, and others who participated in these schemes, and most of them are now serving time in federal prison.”

Zobrist was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan and ordered to pay approximately $31 million in restitution and to serve five years of supervised release. Zobrist pleaded guilty and is to report to federal prison by Dec. 6.

From about June 2006 to May 2008, Zobrist and unnamed co-conspirators solicited and paid persons with good credit ratings to serve as straw buyers to purchase homes in the Las Vegas area on behalf of Zobrist and the coconspirators. Zobrist and the co-conspirators made offers to purchase the homes, and the sellers agreed to disburse part of the sales proceeds to real estate companies, co-conspirators, and third party entities controlled by Zobrist and the co-conspirators under the pretense that the proceeds constituted attorney’s fees, marketing fees, commissions, and other fees.

Zobrist and the co-conspirators caused to be completed and submitted mortgage loan applications and supporting documents in the name of the straw buyers, which contained false and fraudulent information concerning the straw buyers’ income, assets, liabilities, intended occupancy status, and other things. Zobrist and the co-conspirators also caused to be submitted to the lenders documents containing false information about the source of the down payments, value of the homes, and intended disbursements to Zobrist, the co-conspirators, and straw buyers.

Using this fraudulent scheme, Zobrist and the co-conspirators purchased 144 homes and obtained mortgage loans for more than $53 million. Zobrist and the co-conspirators defaulted on the mortgage loans, causing the homes to go into foreclosure, and caused the financial institutions to suffer losses of at least $30 million.  (usattnv9513)

MORAL

The last time we defended someone in Nevada he received six months. But look to the loss of $31 million and the loans from 2008. Nevada does chase, and I have found the U.S. Attorneys to be fair when I have dealt with them. 

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO FELONY OF RIGGING BIDS AT PUBLIC FORECLOSURE SALES

FACTS

On Sept. 5, felony charges were filed in a federal court in San Francisco against Daniel Rosenbledt, a real estate investor who has agreed to plead guilty to his role in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California.

Rosenbledt conspired with others not to bid against one another but instead to designate a winning bidder to obtain selected properties at public real estate foreclosure auctions in San Mateo and San Francisco Counties, California. Rosenbledt was also charged with conspiring to use the mail to carry out schemes to fraudulently acquire title to selected properties sold at public auctions, to make and receive payoffs, and to divert to co-conspirators money that would have otherwise gone to mortgage holders and others.

Rosenbledt conspired with others to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure actions in San Mateo County as early as April 2008 and continuing until about January 2011. Rosenbledt was also charged with similar conduct in San Francisco County beginning as early as November 2009 and continuing until about January 2011.

The filing stated that the primary purpose of the conspiracies was to suppress and restrain competition and to conceal payoffs in order to obtain selected real estate offered at San Mateo and San Francisco County public foreclosure auctions at non-competitive prices. These conspirators paid and received money that otherwise would have gone to pay off the mortgage and other holders of debt secured by the properties, and, in some cases, the defaulting homeowner.

A violation of the Sherman Act carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals. The maximum fine for the Sherman Act charges may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims if either amount is greater than $1 million. A count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The government can also seek to forfeit the proceeds earned from participating in the conspiracy to commit mail fraud. (usattyndca9513)

MORAL

This makes number 36 convictions to date and counting.  Prosecutions are still ongoing. 

MONTANA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO CALIFORNIA FORECLOSURE FRAUD BY CAUSING BANKRUPTCIES TO BE FILED TO FORESTALL FORECLOSURES

FACTS

In August, Walter Harrell pleaded guilty in federal court to masterminding an elaborate scheme to stall home foreclosures by fractionalized interests in the owner’s property. He allegedly offered his services to Bay Area homeowners in danger of foreclosure. In exchange for a monthly fee, he and his associates would stall foreclosures by splitting off ownership in an attempt to outmaneuver bank attorneys.

The scheme involved six Bay Area properties, including Harrell's home in Montana and a house on Roosevelt Boulevard in Half Moon Bay

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