Monday, May 20, 2013

AZ Attorney admits loan fraud

Stanley A. Walton, 54, Las Vegas, Nevada, an attorney, has pleaded guilty to a charge brought against him in February 2011 that he participated in a scheme to obtain mortgage loans from financial institutions using straw buyers and false loan applications. Walton pleaded guilty on Wed., May 15, 2013, to one count of conspiracy to commit bank, mail and wire fraud, and is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan on Aug. 20, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. Walton faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, and has agreed to the forfeiture of $750,000 in money or property in addition to restitution. According to the guilty plea memorandum, from about Sept. 22, 2004, through July 24, 2007, Walton conspired with others to fraudulently obtain residential mortgages in order to obtain proceeds from the mortgages for their personal use. Walton recruited straw buyers to purchase homes, while Walton intended to control the ownership interests of the homes, obtain proceeds from the mortgage loans for his own use, and later resell the house for a profit.

12 1/2 years prison time for loan officer

Fred Haywood, 42, Chicago, Illinois, a former loan officer, was sentenced to more than 12½ years in federal prison for engaging in a mortgage fraud scheme involving 65 real estate transactions with properties located mostly in economically-depressed neighborhoods, which netted him personally more than $700,000. The defendant worked as a loan officer or processor for several different mortgage brokerages during the scheme, which occurred between 2001 and 2007. Haywood was sentenced to 151 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $1.4 million in restitution to various lenders by U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman. Haywood pleaded guilty in April 2012 to wire fraud. Haywood was the last to be sentenced among six defendants who were charged in 2008 and 2009 and subsequently pleaded guilty, and his was the longest term of incarceration. Haywood’s fraudulent acts included qualifying borrowers for loans based on false information submitted to lenders, including false information about their income, assets, employment, intention to occupy the property, and source of down payment. Court records also established that he continued his fraudulent conduct after he was indicted and while on pretrial release. During the scheme, Haywood and his co-schemers recruited buyers with good credit to purchase properties, knowing at the time that these buyers did not have sufficient income to qualify for mortgages, had no intention of actually living in the properties they were purchasing, and had no intention of fulfilling any long-term payment obligations on the loans they obtained. Instead, he and others recruited the buyers by promising to pay them for acting as nominees and for putting the properties in their names. Haywood knew that the false statements and documents submitted to lenders were material to their decisions to make loans. The sentence was announced by Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Cory B. Nelson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Pete Zegarac, Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago. The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Yonan.

Prison time for Real Estate Ponzi Scheme man

Michael Morawski, 56, Sleepy Hollow, Illinois, and Frank Constant, 59, West Dundee, Illinois, whom swindled investors out of millions of dollars in a Ponzi fraud scheme, were sentenced to federal prison and ordered to pay full restitution to their victims. Morawski was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and his co-defendant, Constant was sentenced to 7½ years in prison, and both were ordered to pay more than $18 million in restitution for defrauding 267 victims. Morawski pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud in September 2012 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman. Constant pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and was sentenced to 90 months in prison by Judge Feinerman. Both men were ordered to pay $18,211,547 in restitution and to begin serving their sentences on July 15, 2013. “Mr. Morawski must be punished for the lies and fraud he perpetrated and the way in which he conducted business when it became clear that things were not going well. At the time when people get into situations when businesses go south, it is at that time there has to be the most deterrence,” Judge Feinerman said. In sentencing Constant, the judge said: “The sentence should send a signal to people in positions of trust that truth has to be told in good time and bad. It’s important to investors to know when thing go well, but what Constant did was deprive the investors of full information to make an informed choice.” Between 2006 and 2010, Morawski and Constant fraudulently obtained approximately $21 million and caused 267 investors to lose more than $18 million. After forming a real estate investment company, Michael Franks, LLC, Palatine, Illinois, and several related businesses, they misused the money they raised for their own benefit and to make Ponzi-type payments to earlier investors. Michael Franks offered investors passive ownership in multi-family residential properties, including apartment buildings in Illinois, Texas and Alabama. Morawski and Constant offered two types of investments to the public: one was an investment in acquiring, improving and operating specific apartment complexes for a period of three to five years, and investors were typically told they would earn between seven and nine percent interest annually, and potentially more upon the sale of the property; the second was an investment in real estate-based “funds” that would provide an interest in various properties backed by promissory notes, often offering an annual interest payment of between 8 and 30 percent per year. Certain real estate projects undertaken by Michael Franks performed poorly and failed to generate enough revenue to meet operating expenses. The defendants began transferring funds from various investments to support poorly-performing projects and to pay earlier investors, without disclosing this information. At the same time, they misused investor funds to pay employees, to make commission payments to individuals who raised new funds, and to pay themselves, as well as to make payments for Constant’s company car and country club payments, and to extend loans to friends of Morawski, who pocketed nearly $1 million for himself. The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil Harjani. The investigation was conducted by the FBI. The sentences were announced by Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Cory B. Nelson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Pete Zegarac, Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago.

Illinois man charged with Bank Fraud

Mark P. Troehler, 38, Herrin Illinois, was indicted by a federal grand jury sitting in Benton, Illinois, on May 9, 2013, and charged with Bank Fraud. The indictment alleges that Troehler, from January 2010, and continuing to until August of 2010, engaged in a scheme to defraud the Bank of Marion, Marion, Illinois, of $71,000. According to the Indictment, Troehler, who was at the time a contractor, took out a loan from the bank to build a home in Herrin, Illinois, and then utilized the funds for personal and unrelated business expenses, while supplying false documents to the bank indicating the funds were being used to build the home. Troehler ultimately defaulted on the loan. The offense carries a maximum sentence of up to 30 years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000,000, and mandatory restitution. United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced the indictment.