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

Harrell allegedly had property owners grant fractional interests of their property to individuals whom he had paid to file for bankruptcy, according to the indictment. The bankruptcy proceedings had the effect of halting creditors from foreclosing on the properties. The indictment alleges that creditors were forced to file motions in bankruptcy to proceed with the foreclosures or wait until the entire case was dismissed.
A Half Moon Bay homeowner allegedly recruited Harrell for help in 2011 after falling tens of thousands of dollars behind in her mortgage payments to CitiBank. Later that year, the homeowner did a series of property transfers, giving 2% ownership to Harrell's accomplices, identified as Teresa Weddle and Scott Dion.

Court records show that Weddle filed the initial paperwork to start a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in July 2011. The court issued a stay on the Half Moon Bay foreclosure even though the judge immediately noted Weddle failed to provide basic information about her debts or how she would pay it back. Weddle repeatedly asked the court for more time, writing out some of her court documents by hand on binder paper. In the end, the judge dismissed the case due to a lack of information.

Less than a month later, she filed for bankruptcy a second time. Federal prosecutors alleged that Harrell paid Weddle to lie about her income, stating she was earning $180,000 a year. The U.S. Attorney's Office ultimately pressed charges against Harrell for the false statements Weddle made in her bankruptcy.
As part of the plea deal, Harrell indicated he was able to delay the bankruptcy process for six months or more. He stated that he made more than $30,000, charging homeowners several hundred dollars per month for the service.

In an agreement with federal prosecutors, Harrell pleaded guilty to defrauding and making false statements in bankruptcy court. He faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.  (hlfmnby9513)

MORAL

There are legitimate ways to prevent foreclosures, but this is not one of them. Consult an attorney to learn what is best for you if you have problems with the mortgage to get advice on the legitimate avenues and what may be best under the circumstances. 

FORMER OWNER OF CENTURY 21 APOLLO AGREES TO PLEAD GUILTY TO MORTGAGE FRAUD THAT MAY GET HIM EIGHT YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON (IF HE IS LUCKY)

FACTS

On Sept. 6, James Lee Lankford, the former owner of Century 21 Apollo, Modesto, Calif., agreed to plead guilty to fraud charges in a deal that should fetch a federal prison sentence of at least eight years. Lankford and his husband, Jon Vance McDade, bilked $10 million from elderly homeowners in Modesto and Hughson and from lenders, from 1999 to 2010, authorities said in a 49-count indictment.

Lankford, 74, will admit to seven counts of mail fraud, avoiding a possible maximum term of 20 years for each charge if found guilty at trial, according to the plea agreement.

McDade, who also goes by Jon Lankford since their July marriage, according to his Facebook page, will be imprisoned for one day, according to his deal. He was indicted on 11 counts and will plead guilty to one count of bank fraud, the document says.

Neither agreement, both signed in late August, is valid until the men formally appear before a judge in federal court in Fresno. More than 10 victims lost more than $7 million under the counts listed in Lankford's plea deal. Sentencing guidelines suggest a range of eight to 10 years in prison; government attorneys agreed to recommend a sentence "at the low end," the deal says, though Judge Anthony Ishii could consider other factors, including the victims' vulnerability.

The men gained the trust of elderly homeowners and enriched themselves by obtaining multiple fraudulent loans on properties, according to the plea deals.

Sellers and banks, deceived by forgeries and lies, provided loans without knowing about other debt, documents say. In some cases, elderly sellers lost property to foreclosure, court papers show.

As part of McDade's plea deal, he will admit that he claimed a $27,800 monthly income when applying for a bank loan on the men's Wycliffe Drive home in 2007, when in reality he didn't make that much in that entire year. They got an $880,000 loan, and three years later, the property sold in foreclosure for $385,000.

Lankford's deal requires that he repay "the full amount of restitution as ordered by the court to all victims," but they might have a hard time collecting.  (mdobee9999613)

MORAL

Did you notice how the federal prosecutors chased loans that occurred in 1999, over 13 years ago!

NEW JERSEY MAN ADMITS TO $2 MILLION MORTGAGE FRAUD SCAM

FACTS

On Aug. 30, Raffi Oghlian pleaded guilty and admitted that he took part in a $2 million mortgage fraud scam that used phony loan applications and "straw buyers" to illegally profit on real estate in three states.

In 2008, Oghlian worked as a loan officer for MJS Lending, a mortgage loan business in Hasbrouck Heights. He and his conspirators tried to profit from the sale of overpriced homes in Newark, Atlanta and Naples, Fla., owned by developers trying to sell off inventory.

Oghlian's conspirators used straw buyers that had good credit to purchase the overpriced homes but not the financial resources to qualify for mortgage loans.  So Oghlian created loan applications with false information about the buyers' employment, income and assets, documents said. Oghlian also said he created false documents to support the phony applications.

Once mortgage lenders approved the loans and sent the proceeds, Oghlian and his conspirators pocketed some of the money, wiring funds or depositing checks into various accounts, documents said. MJS Lending released $2 million in loans because of the conspiracy.

Oghlian faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for March 13.  (nj.com9513)

MORAL

So in New Jersey the federal prosecutors are working on loans funded in 3008 and forward. If anyone did questionable loans in New Jersey from 2008 to the present I suggest you seek legal counsel now for preventative legal planning. 

OREGON MORTGAGE BROKER GETS OVER FIVE YEARS IN PRISON FOR MORTGAGE FRAUD

FACTS

On Sept. 4, 2013 an Oregon judge sentenced mortgage broker Peter Wilkinson to 57 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to bank fraud and conspiracy to commit loan application fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud. The case involved more than 50 loans using false income statements, straw borrowers, falsified bank accounts and hidden liabilities to secure financing. 

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken called Wilkinson a "master manipulator.   The case has seen six others who also allegedly took part in the scheme plead guilty to similar charges. The government will seek prison terms for all six, and restitution totaling more than $15.5 million. Wilkinson alone will be on the hook for nearly $10 million.  (mpa9413)

MORAL

People still are being chased, indicted and convicted. I have seen two in the last week. Unfortunately neither could afford private legal counsel.  It is amazing when you think about it. Millions taken and they do not have enough to afford counsel. Did anyone explain to them about contingency funds?

THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. AN ATTORNEY SHOULD BE CONSULTED IF YOU DESIRE LEGAL ADVICE.