Mortgage fraudster Lee Farkas out of prison after serving 9 years

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A U.S. Judge ordered the compassionate release of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker's former chairman and CEO, Lee Farkas, due to susceptibility of COVID-19 transmission in prison. Farkas led a mortgage fraud scheme from 2002 through the housing crash in 2009.

In total, Farkas and his co-conspirators misappropriated $2.9 billion in funds — $1.5 billion from Ocala Funding and $1.4 billion from Colonial Bank’s warehouse division, two entities controlled by TBW at the time.

To cover up the more than $100 million in overdrafts, TBW sold fake pools of loans, phony mortgage assets and loans it already sold to other investors to the two subsidiaries, according to court documents.

TBW closed down in August 2009, leaving about 2,000 people unemployed. Ocala sputtered and filed for bankruptcy in 2011, while Colonial shuttered on Aug. 14 2009 and went under FDIC control. PwC was then found negligent in its auditsof Colonial Bank and was forced to pay $625 million in damages.

Farkas was tried and convicted on 14 counts of fraud and sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2011. The other TBW executives involved pleaded guilty and received sentences ranging from three months to eight years.

District Judge Leonie Brinkema in Alexandria, Va. — who oversaw the original trial in 2011 — stated the outbreak of coronavirus cases at the Coleman low-security prison in Wildwood, Fla., where Farkas was detained, combined with his age and health problems were reason enough to warrant an early release.

When met with opposition from the prosecution, Brinkema said in her decision that she wasn't "at all concerned about the interests of justice not being served." She noted that, "Yes it was a large financial crime, but he was not the only person engaged in that type of crime," according to the Orlando Sentinel. Farkas will need to quarantine for two weeks before being sent to live under his sister's custody in Albuquerque, N.M.

"I think it is great that Lee has secured early release," Bruce Rogow, the attorney who represented Farkas in 2011, said in a statement to National Mortgage News. "His sentence was the consequence of a bad economic time in the country and he deserves to be free again."

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Mortgage fraud Law and regulation PwC Coronavirus FDIC