FBI: “Former Mortgage Broker Indicted for Defrauding First Coweta Bank”

July 19, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on July 18, 2013 released the following:

“GAINESVILLE, GA— Amy B. Williams, 48, of Buford, Georgia, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges arising out of a scheme to defraud First Coweta Bank.

“Bank fraud is a critical problem throughout the United States, but it has hit Georgia especially hard,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Georgia leads the nation in bank failures since 2008, with 78 banks failing—including First Coweta Bank, the bank this defendant is charged with defrauding.”

According to United States Attorney Yates, the indictment, and other information presented in court: Williams was the sole owner of United International Mortgage (UIM) Corporation in Buford, Georgia, and was in the business of arranging construction loans for residential builders.

In April 2007, UIM closed three construction loans for one of its customers, Mainstreet Builders Inc. The loans were intended to finance the cost of constructing three new houses in Suwanee, Georgia. The loans, which totaled more than $1.7 million, were funded by First Coweta Bank.

Williams directed an unindicted co-conspirator to forge signatures on loan documents and caused those documents to be faxed to First Coweta Bank. The bank then wire transferred the loan proceeds to an account controlled by Williams. Williams was required to hold the money in trust for the builder and to disburse the money to the builder on a draw basis, as work on the three houses progressed. Instead, she used more than $1.1 million of this money to pay off her personal debt at another bank and wire transferred $60,000 into her personal checking account. After converting First Coweta Bank’s money to her own use, Williams attempted to cover up her crime by e-mailing false documents and misleading photos to the bank.

Mark F. Giuliano, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated, “The actions of Ms. Williams, as alleged in the indictment, directly led to the failure of the First Coweta Bank and, as such, clearly demonstrates the serious nature and impact of those actions. The FBI will continue to coordinate its bank fraud investigations with its various law enforcement partners in an effort to effectively identify, investigate, and present for prosecution those individuals who do so much harm to the banking industry.”

Jason T. Moran, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-Office of Inspector General Southeast Region, said, “The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is committed to its partnerships with others in the law enforcement community as we address mortgage fraud and bank fraud cases throughout the country. The American people need to be assured that their government is working to ensure integrity in the financial services and housing industries and that those involved in criminal activities that undermine that integrity will be held accountable.”

Williams was arraigned today before United States Magistrate Judge J. Clay Fuller in Gainesville, Georgia.

The indictment charges one count of conspiracy and six counts of bank fraud. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000. In determining the actual sentence, the court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges, and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by special agents of the FBI and the FDIC Office of Inspector General.

Assistant United States Attorney Russell Phillips is prosecuting the case.”

Federal Bank Fraud Crimes – 18 U.S.C. § 1344

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Klary Arcentales Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury For Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud and Bank Fraud in an Alleged $2 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme

May 16, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 15, 2013 released the following:

“Bergen County Woman Indicted in $2 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme

NEWARK, NJ— A Bergen County, New Jersey woman was indicted today for her role in a long-running, large-scale mortgage fraud scheme that caused millions of dollars in losses, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Klary Arcentales, 44, of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, was charged in a five-count indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and four counts of bank fraud, all of which caused losses of at least $2 million.

According to the indictment and other documents filed in this case:

As early as 2006, Arcentales engaged in a mortgage fraud conspiracy through a company called Premier Mortgage Services (PMS). Arcentales, a loan officer at PMS, provided fraudulent documents to financial institutions in connection with mortgage loan applications on behalf of “straw buyers” to induce those financial institutions to fund mortgage loans. Relying upon those false documents, financial institutions funded mortgage loans. Arcentales then profited illegally by receiving a commission from PMS for each mortgage loan that she closed and also profited illegally by diverting portions of the fraudulently obtained mortgage proceeds for herself.

Conspirator Lester Soto, 56, previously charged by complaint, was a part-owner of PMS. He also acted as a loan officer on certain PMS mortgage loan applications. Soto took a percentage of PMS’s profits. Soto employed document makers to create fraudulent documents in furtherance of the scheme and put loan officers at PMS, including Arcentales, in contact with these document makers to create other false and fraudulent documents.

Conspirator Linda Cohen, 55, previously charged by Complaint, was a paralegal who closed transactions on behalf of a licensed New Jersey attorney. Cohen served as the settlement agent on mortgage loans brokered by Arcentales for various properties. Cohen convened closings, received funds from lenders, and prepared HUD-1 forms—which itemize services and fees charged to borrowers for mortgage loans—that purported to reflect the sources and destinations of funds for mortgages on subject properties. In fact, the HUD-1s were neither true nor accurate. At or following the closings, Cohen disbursed mortgage loan proceeds directly to PMS, herself, and others, including in amounts not reflected on the HUD-1s. Cohen received a fee for each fraudulent loan in which she participated.

Conspirator Antonio Pimenta, 45, previously charged by complaint, owned and managed Kelmar Construction Co., which built properties that were then sold to straw buyers utilizing fraudulent mortgage loans brokered by Arcentales.

The indictment charges Arcentales with one count of bank fraud conspiracy and four counts of bank fraud, each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford; special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen, for the investigation leading to today’s charges. Fishman also thanked the Social Security Administration-Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Edward Ryan, for its participation in the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Agarwal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office General Crimes Unit and Zach Intrater of the Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.

This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit http://www.stopfraud.gov.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment and complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

Federal Bank Fraud Crimes – 18 U.S.C. 1344

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Attorney Lisa Carol Ross Pleads Guilty in Federal Court to Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud After Investigation and Charges Brought by IRS-CI and the FBI

August 30, 2012

U.S. Attorney’s Office News Release on August 29, 2012 released the following:

“Title Company Attorney Convicted in Multi-Million Dollar Mortgage Fraud Scheme

HOUSTON – Lisa Carol Ross, 50, of Missouri City, Texas, has pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Lucy Cruz.

Ross, an attorney and escrow officer for Vision Title LLC, and three others were indicted in 2011 for a scheme to defraud residential mortgage lenders. According to the indictment, the conspirators allegedly used fraudulent documents to help borrowers qualify for mortgage loans to purchase condominium units in the Commerce Towers building located on Main Street in downtown Houston as well as residential homes in the Houston area. The indictment indicates the documents had false and misleading information about the borrowers’ income, assets, liabilities, employment status, bank deposits, rental payments, intent to use properties as a primary residence and source of funds used to close the real estate transactions. Today, Ross admitted that she arranged for disbursements from the title company to be turned into cash and money orders and secretly distributed to the involved parties.

Ross is currently in custody on unrelated state charges where she will remain pending sentencing in this case by U.S. District Judge Gray Miller on Jan. 25, 2013. At that time, Ross faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The others charged in relation to this case are set to begin trial on Dec. 3, 2012. They are presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the FBI, IRS-CI, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of Inspector General and Houston Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney John Lewis is prosecuting the case.”

A previous post concerning this case may be found here.

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Southern District of Florida Securities and Investment Fraud Initiative Results in Charges Against 15 Individuals in 12 Separate Cases

June 5, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on June 4, 2012 released the following:

“To Date, 85 Defendants Have Been Charged as Part of the Initiative

Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; Eric I. Bustillo, Regional Director, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Southeast Region; and Linda Charity, Interim Commissioner, State of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation (OFR), announced the most recent results of the Southern District of Florida Securities and Investment Fraud Initiative (the Initiative), first announced in December 2010 and designed to combat securities and investment fraud and protect the interests of the investing public.

The Initiative was established to address the increase in securities and investment fraud schemes in the Southern District of Florida. In addition to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, SEC, and OFR, other participating agencies in the Initiative include the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), U.S. Secret Service (USSS), U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG), U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Southeast Region. These law enforcement and regulatory agencies have shared intelligence and combined their resources to combat securities and investment fraud, including Ponzi schemes, affinity fraud schemes, prime bank/high-yield investment scams, business opportunity fraud, promoter/micro-cap/“pump and dump” schemes, foreign exchange (FOREX) frauds, false bankruptcy petitions, and other schemes to defraud individual investors. Among the goals of the Initiative are to alert the public about the prevalence of these types of schemes, to educate the public on how to avoid falling prey to these schemes, and to highlight the law enforcement response to the problem.

The Southern District of Florida ranks second in the nation in securities and investment fraud investigations and prosecutions. Using the strike force model successfully developed in the health care and mortgage fraud areas, the Securities and Investment Fraud Initiative has yielded similar success. Since its inception in December 2010, the Initiative has resulted in charges against 85 defendants in the Southern District of Florida, resulting in more than $1.5 billion in restitution ordered. Today, we are announcing charges against 15 individuals in 12 separate cases.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Our primary goal in creating the Securities and Investment Fraud Initiative was to protect investors from fraud and to restore the integrity of the securities market. Too often, we hear from victims who have lost their entire lives’ savings or their retirement nest egg to one of these unscrupulous schemers. Today, we hope to educate the public about the need to be alert and to verify before trusting and investing. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

“The fraud from these stock market manipulation schemes could have defrauded numerous innocent investors out of millions of dollars. Because the FBI and our partners were able to disrupt these schemes early on through our undercover operations, the investing public was protected,” said John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office. “The law enforcement efforts announced today also serve to send a message that the FBI and its partners will continue to target those who would chip away at the trust and confidence in the securities markets.”

Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office, said, “This Initiative is a testament to our allegiance to investors and our commitment to prosecute those who seek to defraud them. When we say we’re determined to stamp out microcap fraud, that’s not a slogan. That’s a pledge.”

“I commend the hard work of investigators from the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, as well as other state and federal regulatory and law enforcement agencies,” said Linda Charity, Interim OFR Commissioner. “These partnerships are essential to effectively combat securities fraud and help protect Florida’s investors.”

Below is a summary of the cases being announced today. These cases involve a variety of frauds, including fraudulent Federal Reserve notes, illegal kickback schemes, market manipulation schemes, and more traditional Ponzi schemes.

Fraudulent Federal Reserve Notes:

U.S. vs. Cleland Ayison, 12-80056-CR-DIMITROULEAS

Ayison, 32, of Tampa, was arrested today on charges of possessing a fraudulent $500,000,000 Federal Reserve Note.

Illegal Kickback Schemes:

U.S. vs. Michael Cimino and Joseph Repko, 12-2733-MJ-GARBER

Cimino, 59, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the director and chairman of the board for Sure Trace Security Corporation (SSTY), and Repko, 63, of Hobe Sound, Florida, SSTY’s chief financial officer and president, were arrested today on a criminal complaint charging them with conspiring to commit mail fraud by paying kickbacks to a pension fund fiduciary to induce the fiduciary to misappropriate money from a pension fund in order to buy restricted common stock at inflated prices. SSTY, a Utah corporation, was purportedly involved in the anti-counterfeiting technology business.

U.S. vs. Ryan Coblin, 11-80159-CR-RYSKAMP

Coblin, 41, of Boca Raton, was the president of Delivery Technology Solutions Inc., a domestic and international delivery company catering to corporations. Coblin was charged by information in September 2011 and pled guilty on March 8, 2012 to engaging in a scheme to pay kickbacks to a hedge fund fiduciary to induce the fiduciary to misappropriate money from a hedge fund in order to buy restricted common stock at inflated prices. Sentencing is scheduled for July 13, 2012.

Market Manipulation Schemes:

U.S. vs. Kevin Brennan, Donald Huggins, and Marc Seaver Page, 12-60064-CR-COHN

Today, charges were unsealed against defendants Brennan, 60, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the CEO of Optimized Transportation Management Inc. (OPTZ), a Delaware freight transportation company; Huggins, 64 of St. Petersburg, Florida, an investor in OPTZ; and Marc Seaver Page, 50, of Tiburon, California. The defendants are charged with engaging in a scheme to manipulate the publicly quoted share price and trading volume of OPTZ common stock.

U.S. vs. Douglas Hague, 12-60124-CR-WILLIAMS

Hague, 65, of Boca Raton, was the President of Clean Coal Technologies Inc., a corporation that purportedly converted low-grade coal to high-grade clean-burning coal. He was charged by information on June 1, 2012 with engaging in a scheme to pay kickbacks to a pension fund fiduciary to induce the fiduciary to misappropriate money from a pension fund in order to buy restricted common stock at inflated prices.

U.S. vs. Harold Steven Bonenberger, 12-60125-CR-COHN

Bonenberger, 56, of Carlsbad, California, was CEO of Angel Acquisition Corp. (AGEL), a Nevada corporation that purportedly managed assets. Bonenberger was charged by information on June 1, 2012 with engaging in a scheme to manipulate the publicly quoted share price and trading volume of AGEL common stock.

U.S. vs. Robert Cotton, 12-60126-CR-DIMITROULEAS

Cotton, 61 of Houston, Texas, was the President of Cotton and Western Mining Inc. (CWRN), a Nevada corporation that purportedly exported and mined iron minerals. Cotton was charged by information on June 1, 2012 with engaging in a scheme to manipulate the publicly quoted share price and trading volume of CWRN common stock.

U.S. vs. Matthew A. Connor, 12-2732-MJ-GARBER

Connor, 36, of Amherst, Virginia, a shareholder of and consultant for KCM Holdings Corporation (KCMH) was arrested today on a criminal complaint charging him with engaging in a scheme to manipulate the publicly quoted share price and trading volume of KCMH stock, in violation of the wire fraud statute. KCMH was purportedly in the business of providing strategic consulting services to clients.

U.S. vs. Scott Haire, 12-2734-MJ-GARBER

Haire, 42, of Coral Springs, President of Wound Management Technologies Inc. (WNDM), a Texas corporation that purportedly developed advanced wound care products. Haire was charged by criminal complaint with engaging in a scheme to manipulate the publicly quoted share price and trading volume of WNDM common stock. Haire is expected to surrender on June 6, 2012.

Ponzi Schemes:

U.S. vs. Juan Carlos Rodriguez, 12-20148-CR-DIMITROULEAS

Rodriguez, 49, of Miami, was indicted on March 6, 2012 for committing wire fraud in the execution of a Ponzi scheme. According to the indictment, Rodriguez was the sole officer and director of MDN Financial Group Inc., a Miami company that solicited approximately $5.2 million from investors with promises that the company would invest in stocks, bonds, and precious metals. Rodriguez would recruit colleagues and friends to invest in MDN Financial, promising them 20, 30, 40, and even 50 percent returns. In fact, Rodriguez did not invest the money he was given by investors. Instead, he used more than $1 million of the money to pay for personal expenses like credit card bills. A calendar call is scheduled for July 20, 2012.

U.S. vs. George Elia, 12-60077-CR-WILLIAMS

Elia, 68, formerly of Fort Lauderdale, is scheduled to be arraigned on June 6, 2012 on charges of operating a Ponzi scheme in which he recruited investors by making false claims about the potential returns on investments. Elia was the president of International Consultants & Investment Group LC., a corporation based in Broward County.

U.S. vs. Aner Menendez, 12-20389-CR-SCOLA

Menendez was arrested today on charges of mail and wire fraud. Menendez was the sole member and manager of De Forcade and recruited investors by claiming he was a skilled foreign currencies trader. Through a series of misrepresentations, he exploited social relationships to convince his victims to invest their savings with him. After receiving their money, Menendez made no investments for victims, instead spending their savings on himself and others.

In addition to the 12 criminal cases announced above, the SEC has filed nine separate civil injunctive actions against 12 individuals and eight microcap companies, charging them with violations of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws and seeking, among other relief, permanent injunctions, disgorgement, and financial penalties. These defendants, including several CEOs and their companies and three penny stock promoters, are charged with securities fraud for their roles in various illicit kickback and market manipulation schemes.

Regarding the continued results of the Initiative, other members stated as follows:

IRS Special Agent in Charge José A. Gonzalez stated, “IRS-Criminal Investigation Division is pleased to lend our forensic financial expertise to uncover financial wrongdoings by those who commit investment fraud. Make no mistake, whether on Wall Street or Main Street, swindlers will be thoroughly investigated and swiftly brought to justice.”

U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Henry Gutierrez stated, “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to working with its law enforcement partners to stop investment fraud. We are particularly focused on fraud committed against often-targeted pension funds, in which victims have deposited their hard-earned money.”

Cindy Liebes, Director of the Federal Trade Commission Southeast Region, stated, “The Federal Trade Commission is also working to stop investment fraud and has filed several actions. Most recently, the FTC has sued Sterling Precious Metals LLC, Matthew Meyer, Francis Ryan Zofay, and Kerry Marshall for operating an investment scheme that allegedly took in almost $10 million by targeting elderly consumers and conning them into buying precious metals on credit without clearly disclosing significant costs and risks. In March, the FTC brought a similar action against Anthony J. Columbo, Premier Precious Metals Inc., Rushmore Consulting Group Inc., and PPM Credit Inc.”

Other Recent Cases Resulting from the Initiative

In addition to the cases announced above, the Initiative boasts a number of other recent cases, a few of which are highlighted below:

U.S. vs. Anthony Zito, 12-20030-CR-WILLIAMS

Zito, 64, of Naples, Florida, was charged in connection with a $7.5 million investment scheme. Zito owned and operated a firm named Gladius Investments (Gladius). Zito founded Gladius in 2004 and acted as the company’s officer, director, and president. Gladius purported to invest in silver on the commodities market on behalf of investors who entrusted Gladius with their money. On June 8, 2010, for example, Gladius’ internal database showed that the company had approximately 130 investors, that Gladius had invested in 1,271,500 ounces of silver on behalf of its investors, and that the total value of that silver was $19,708,250. In fact, however, Gladius’ actual trading account statement showed that Gladius had no more than 50,000 ounces of silver investments that month and that the total value of the trading account was about $672,000. The investors in Gladius lost approximately $7.5 million as a result of Zito’s fraud. On March 30, 2012, Zito was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiring to commit wire fraud in connection with the fraudulent investment scheme. In addition, Zito was ordered to pay $7.5 million in restitution to the victims of his crime. The court also ordered the forfeiture of half the value of Zito’s house, as well as his cars and bank accounts.

U.S. vs. Douglas Newton, 11-60150-CR-COOKE

On May 9, 2012, Newton was convicted after trial of two counts of mail fraud, four counts of securities fraud, and one count of conspiring to commit securities fraud. Sentencing is scheduled for August 29, 2012. According to evidence presented during the trial, Newton operated Billy Martin’s USA, a retail company that was delinquent with its lease payments at the Trump Plaza in New York City. In need of funding, Newton turned to a cooperating defendant who arranged a meeting with an undercover FBI agent. Newton attended a meeting in Broward County, Florida, where he agreed on video to bribe a pension fund manager to invest the pension fund investors’ money in Real American Brands. In addition, to hide the illegal bribes, the defendant entered into a fraudulent consulting agreement and sent fictitious e-mails to the undercover FBI agent. Newton also claimed in the recorded meetings to have business relationships with Jeffrey Sebelia, the winner of the “Project Runway TV” contest, and country singer Carrie Underwood. In total, Newton paid $12,000 in bribes to the purported pension fund and received a total of $40,000 from the fund. The defendant used the money to pay for his golf club, home owner fees, and his utilities.

U.S. vs. Yan Skwara, 11-60294-CR-WILLIAMS

Skwara, 47, of San Diego, California, was the president of U.S. Farms, Inc., a Nevada corporation that promoted wellness-based products. Skwara pled guilty on April 20, 2012 to engaging in a scheme to pay kickbacks to a pension fund fiduciary to induce the fiduciary to misappropriate money from a pension fund in order to buy restricted common stock at inflated prices. Sentencing is scheduled for July 3, 2012.

U.S. vs. Gaston E. Cantens, 12-20005-CR-WILLIAMS

On April 4, 2012, Gaston E. Cantens, 73, of Miami, was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with a fraud committed at Royal West Properties Inc. (Royal West). According to documents filed with the court and statements made during the sentencing hearing, Cantens was the president of Royal West Properties Inc. and recruited individuals to invest in Royal West by promising investors a fixed rate of return and that their investments would be guaranteed by properties or mortgages that acted as collateral. Cantens used his extensive ties to the South Florida community, including his ties to Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, to recruit investors to the fraud. Cantens told investors that their money were collateralized by individual properties but failed to inform them that the collateralized properties had previously been assigned to other investors. Cantens received moneys from investors based on these misrepresentations, and used the moneys for his personal benefit and to further the fraud scheme.

An indictment or information is merely an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Attorney Among Four Defendants Indicted in Alleged $16.2 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme Involving at Least 35 Residential Loans

June 5, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on June 4, 2012 released the following:

“CHICAGO— Four defendants—an attorney, a loan originator, a mortgage broker, and a loan processor—were indicted for allegedly participating in a scheme to fraudulently obtain at least 35 mortgage loans totaling more than $16.2 million from various lenders, federal law enforcement officials announced today. The indictment alleges that the mortgages were obtained to finance the purchase of properties throughout Chicago and in suburban Country Club Hills by buyers who were fraudulently qualified for loans, while the defendants allegedly profited from fees they were paid and undisclosed payments they obtained.

All four defendants were charged with various counts of mail fraud and bank fraud in a nine-count indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury last Thursday. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of $16,218,050. The charges were announced today by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Thomas P. Brady, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago.

Hakeem Rashid—39, of Miami and formerly of the Chicago area, a licensed loan originator who was employed by two mortgage brokerage companies, including 1st Regent Mortgage Funding Inc.—was charged with four counts of mail fraud and five counts of bank fraud. Kareem Broughton, 39, of Chicago, a mortgage broker and the owner of 1st Regent, was charged with two counts of mail fraud and three counts of bank fraud. Marguerite Elise Dixon-Roper, also known as “Elise Dixon,” 46, of Darien, an attorney, was charged with one count of mail fraud and two counts of bank fraud; and Jada Elaine Lucas, aka “Sophia Youssef,” 52, of Chicago, a loan processor at 1st Regent and another brokerage, was charged with three counts of mail fraud and one count of bank fraud.

An arrest warrant was issued for Rashid. The other three defendants are scheduled to be arraigned at 9:30 a.m. Thursday before Magistrate Judge Geraldine Soat Brown in U.S. District Court.

Between 2005 and May 2008, all four defendants and others allegedly schemed to obtain the fraudulent mortgages by making false representations in loan applications, supporting documents, and HUD-1 settlement statements concerning the buyers’ income, employment, financial condition, source of down payments, and intention to occupy the property.

As part of the scheme, Rashid, Broughton, and Dixon-Roper allegedly recruited buyers to purchase properties and facilitated the buyers’ purchase of properties, knowing that they would be fraudulently qualified for mortgage loans. Rashid and Broughton allegedly paid buyers for purchasing properties, while concealing the payments from lenders. In addition, the defendants also allegedly either purchased properties, which were mostly scattered throughout the city, and/or refinanced existing mortgages in their own names, knowing that they were fraudulently qualified for the loans.

According to the indictment, Broughton received payment through 1st Regent in the form of brokerage fees on loans for buyers whom he knew were qualified based on false information submitted to lenders; Rashid received payment through 1st Regent and another company for originating mortgage loans for buyers whom he knew were not qualified; Dixon-Roper received payment for representing buyers and sellers at real estate closings, knowing that the buyers were not legitimately qualified borrowers; and Youssef received payment for processing loans through 1st Regent, knowing that she submitted false information to qualify buyers for the loans.

In addition, Rashid, Broughton, and Dixon-Roper allegedly obtained undisclosed payments through entities they controlled, including The Broughton Group, R&B Management, Hamaya Banco, and Dixon-Roper’s law firm. Rashid and Dixon also allegedly submitted false statements to lenders indicating that escrow money was being held by Dixon-Roper or her law firm. Instead, knowing that no escrow money was being held, Dixon directed the payment of money purportedly held in escrow to herself and Rashid, while concealing the true nature of the payments from lenders, the charges allege.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Zimdahl and Erika Csicsila.

Each count of bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, and each count of mail fraud carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and restitution is mandatory. If convicted, the court may impose an alternate fine totaling twice the loss to any victim or twice the gain to the defendant, whichever is greater. The court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The charges are part of a continuing effort to investigate and prosecute mortgage fraud in northern Illinois and nationwide under the umbrella of the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which was established to lead an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.

Since 2008, close to 200 defendants have been charged in federal court in Chicago and Rockford with engaging in various mortgage fraud schemes involving more than 1,000 properties and more than $280 million in potential losses, signifying the high priority that federal law enforcement officials give mortgage fraud in an effort to deter others from engaging in crimes relating to residential and commercial real estate.

The Financial Fraud Enforcement 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. For more information on the task force, visit: http://www.stopfraud.gov.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Four Indicted in Alleged Mortgage Fraud Scheme

June 4, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on June 1, 2012 released the following:

“Defendants Allegedly Exploited Immigrant Straw Buyers to Defraud Multiple Banks

Four Seattle-area residents were arrested today on a 21-count indictment charging them with conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. The mortgage fraud scheme ran from 2006 to 2008 and defrauded more than 10 banks, financial institutions, and mortgage lenders of more than $8.6 million. More than 50 mortgages were involved on properties in a variety of communities around Puget Sound including Medina, Renton, South Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, and Kirkland. Jonathan Mendoza Martinez, 34, of Bellevue, Washington; his sister, Jazmin Villalba Martinez=, 30, of Seattle, Washington; Celia Perez Morales, 35, of Kirkland, Washington; and Jorge Castrejon Pichardo, 41, of Mountlake Terrace, Washington, made their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Seattle today.

According to the indictment, three of the defendants worked at Emerald City Escrow and at Nationwide Home Mortgage and conspired to use straw buyers to defraud banks. The fourth defendant worked at a tax preparation business and provided some of the false documentation submitted with the loan applications. The conspirators submitted false financial, employment, and tax information to apply for residential mortgage loans. They falsely inflated the sale price of the properties. After the lenders funded the loans, the conspirators kept the excess proceeds, and the straw buyers quickly defaulted on the mortgages. The victim banks included Washington Mutual (now JPM Chase), Bank of America, American Sterling Bank, ING Bank, IndyMac Bank, and Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., among others. Documents in the scheme were submitted via mail and wire. In all, the defendants secured, or aided and abetted in securing, through unqualified buyers, at least 50 mortgage loans, representing approximately $22,396,660 in loan proceeds, based on false and fraudulent representations, resulting in a loss to financial institutions and mortgage lenders totaling approximately $8,672,330.

Each count in the indictment is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mike Lang and James Oesterle.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Five Plead Guilty and One Man Indicted in alleged $1.5 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme

May 18, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 18, 2012 released the following:

“ALEXANDRIA, VA—Five individuals have pled guilty to conspiring together to secure more than $1.5 million in a mortgage fraud scheme involving a home in Gainesville, Virginia. A federal grand jury has also indicted an individual for his alleged role in the real estate transaction.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement.

According to the four-count federal indictment returned on May 17, 2012, Jea Min Lee, 34, of Centreville, Virginia, is charged with engaging in a conspiracy to defraud financial institutions into making fraudulent mortgage loans. The conspiracy allegedly involved a mortgage broker, an unqualified strawbuyer, an executive from a title company, and multiple intermediaries who prepared and approved fraudulent loan documents. According to court documents, the total amount of mortgage loans approved through the alleged conspiracy exceeded $1.5 million. Financial institutions suffered losses of over $700,000 as a result of the conspiracy.

The indictment alleges that Jea Min Lee and his co-conspirators prepared and submitted false, fraudulent, and misleading mortgage loan applications for an unqualified buyer who would not have otherwise been approved for the loan. The fraudulent mortgage loan applications contained false information regarding the applicant’s employment, income, assets, immigration status, and intent to live in the property as a primary residence. According to court documents, one month after conspirators fraudulently obtained $1.2 million in mortgage loan proceeds, they applied for and fraudulently received a $350,000 home equity loan, the proceeds of which were distributed among some of the conspirators.

According to the indictment, Jea Min Lee and his conspirators created fake documents to corroborate false information contained in fraudulent loan applications including a fake lease, fabricated bank statement, and a bogus W-2. One conspirator also falsely verified another conspirator’s employment in order to qualify for the loan.

Peter Kim, 39, of Fairfax, Virginia; Bok Hee Lee, 37, of South Riding, Virginia; Jai Sek Lee, 50, of Ashburn, Virginia; Jai Song, 41, of McLean, Virginia; and Erin Cullen, 32, of Fairfax, Virginia, have each pled guilty this week to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and face a maximum penalty of five years in prison when they are sentenced in August 2012.

This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Assistant United States Attorney Uzo Asonye is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

The public is reminded that an indictment only contains charges and is not evidence of guilt, and neither are guilty pleas in related cases. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.