Colorado man sentenced in $32 million bank scheme

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A Boulder, Colo., man was sentenced to five years in prison after using information obtained through legitimate transactions to create and sell almost $32 million of fraudulent loan packages to a bank.

Michael Scott Leslie, 57, was sentenced for bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to a news release. He was also sentenced to five years of supervised release following prison.

According to the facts contained in the plea agreement, Leslie owned, operated, or otherwise had an interest in several business entities that were involved in or affiliated with financing or originating residential mortgage loans. Through these business entities, Leslie sold residential mortgage loans to investors, including an FDIC-insured bank in Texas, the release states.

Between October 2015 and October 2017, Leslie created a scheme to defraud the bank by selling it 144 fraudulent residential mortgage loans valued at $31,908,806.88. These loans were purportedly originated by one of Leslie's companies, Montage Mortgage, and "closed" by Snowberry, which earned fees for the closing. The loans were then presented and sold to the victim bank until Montage identified a final investor, Mortgage Capital Management.

But Leslie never disclosed to the bank that he operated both Mortgage Capital Management and Snowberry.

The 144 residential mortgage loans sold to the bank were not real loans, but fraudulently used personal identifying information from real borrowers who had used Montage for legitimate residential real estate transactions or had been solicited by Montage about refinancing their existing loans.

According to the release, Leslie forged signatures on closing documents and fabricated and altered credit reports as well as title documents, often by using the names of legitimate companies. The fraudulent real estate transactions were never filed with the respective counties in which the properties were located, there were no closings and no liens were ever recorded.

Through numerous bank accounts for the various business entities and his personal accounts, the defendant used money in a "Ponzi-like fashion" from prior fraudulent loans sold to the bank to fund future fraudulent loans.

Leslie was charged June 5 of this year and pleaded guilty July 31.

"Five years in federal prison is an appropriate sentence for a fraudster that stole personal identities and used them to steal millions of dollars from a legitimate business," U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn said in the release. "Thanks to the hard work of the investigating agencies and the prosecution team in my office, not only will Mr. Leslie have several years in prison to contemplate his actions, but other such criminals are on notice that we take economic crime seriously and will prosecute them to the full extent of the law."

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