Two more indicted in Denver regarding another alleged mortgage fraud

The Rocky Mountain News reports that a Denver grand jury has indicted two men on charges they violated the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act in alleged mortgage scams that led to home foreclosures.  Most of the felony charges have been filed against Luis Vagle, the former head of a company called First Financial Corp. at 494 Sheridan Blvd.

Lawrence M. Rosenberg, who according to real estate records owns the Sheridan Boulevard building with Vagle, faces lesser charges. Neither has been arrested, said Joe Morales, who heads the Denver district attorney’s economic crime unit.

He said a “fair estimate” is that Vagle’s schemes bilked home sellers and lenders out of at least $1 million. It could have been worse, but some lenders would not approve loans Vagle submitted, Morales said.

In some cases, Vagle or others, including Rosenberg, submitted fraudulent loan applications to lenders that included phony checks, W-2 forms, letters of recommendation and letters verifying employment, according to the 20-page, 15-count indictment.

In one case, Vagle said he would buy several properties from a woman and use the proceeds to pay off her credit card debt, but he instead used the money for his own business expenses, according to the indictment.


Man pleads guilty and another is charged in NY flipping scheme

I-Team 10 News in New York reports that the FBI is cracking down on a mortgage fraud scheme in Rochester that cheated banks and left homes abandoned. It’s an I-Team 10 investigation follow up to a story we first reported in November of 2002. I-Team 10 investigator Brett Davidsen examined dozens of city properties that had been bought and quickly re-sold at huge mark-ups.

The feds began investigating after noticing a pattern of suspicious home sales that led to foreclosures in Rochester.

Banks lost millions, and homes were left abandoned. Now the feds say a few local men were engaged in fraud lying on mortgage applications to get bank loans then walking away from the properties without making the payments.

For more than two years the federal government has been investigating properties like the ones located at 318-320 Brooks Avenue. Authorities say it matches a pattern of questionable real estate deals that all seem to end up in foreclosure.

Joseph Maggio recently plead guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Maggio falsified his mortgage application when buying the house on Brooks Avenue from Theodore Antonucci, JR. Read the plea agreement by clicking here.

He got the mortgage for $63,000.00 then immediately defaulted on the loan for non-payment. As part of a plea agreement, Maggio will spend up to a year in prison.

Last week the federal investigation widened with the arrest of William O’Keefe. He is also charged with falsifying his mortgage application to get a federally insured bank loan to buy this property at 67 Waverly Place, Rochester, NY. This property was also purchased from Theodore Antonucci, JR. Read the Criminal Information by clicking here.

But property flipping can be perfectly legal when no fraud is involved, so experts say the illegal schemes are often difficult to trace.

As for the property on Brooks Avenue, it eventually went into foreclosure and the bank re-sold it for less than $20,000.00, far less than the $63,000.00 mortgage that Maggio got to buy it.

Use the reference section to read the rest of this article by News 10 (WHEC-TV) and view a video report that includes interviews with suspects.


Attorney General Suthers Establishes Mortgage And Foreclosure Fraud Task Force 

A rise in foreclosures and mortgage scams has prompted Attorney General to take measures to prevent consumers from becoming victims. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers today convened the first meeting of the Mortgage and Foreclosure Fraud Task Force designed to prevent Colorado consumers from falling victim to what Suthers calls a growing wave of consumer fraud.

“Too many Coloradans are losing their primary financial asset because of the growing industry of mortgage and foreclosure scams,” said Suthers. “This Task Force will help those on the front lines deter these scams and assist the public with complaints.”

The Task Force is comprised of public trustees, district attorneys, law enforcement and county clerk and recorders from across Colorado.

In today’s meeting, the Attorney General charged the Task Force with three agenda items, 1) a public outreach effort to educate susceptible victims, 2) recommendations to encourage multi-jurisdictional cooperation among law enforcement and other organizations and individuals who confront foreclosure and mortgage scams, and 3) legislative proposals to be submitted by the group’s next meeting in October 2005.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, first-time homebuyers are most often victims of foreclosure and mortgage scams. The elderly and Spanish-speaking homeowners are also frequently targeted.

“The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to be able to recognize and avoid these scams,” said Attorney General Suthers. “People need to get the subjective advice of those who do not have a financial interest in the matter. In the end, the old adage applies: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

The Mortgage and Foreclosure Fraud Task Force is chaired by Attorney General Suthers and includes the following members:

Jan Zavislan, Deputy Attorney General for Consumer Protection
Jeanne Smith, Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice
Peg Ackerman, Legislative Liason for County Sheriff’s of Colorado
Bob Balink, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder
Carl Blesch, Investigator for the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office
Robyn Cafasso, Senior Deputy District Attorney for El Paso County
Willis Carpenter, Attorney Counsel for Colorado Association of Clerks and Recorders
Pam Cronce, Teller County Public Trustee
Patricia Crowson, Teller County Clerk and Recorder
Angela Dazlich, Larimer County Public Trustee
Nancy Doty, Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder
Hans Fedge, Mortgage Broker and member of Colorado Association of Mortgage Brokers and Colorado Mortgage Lender’s Association
Peggy Foley, Public Trustee for Pueblo County
Sergeant Tom Frank, Civil Division, Denver Sheriff Department
Mark Hodges, Agent, Colorado Bureau of Investigation
Kevin Hyland, Agent, Colorado Bureau of Investigation
Connie Joiner, Teller County Public Trustee
Sandra Largent, Deputy of Recording Division for Arapahoe County
David Marsh, Department of Regulatory Agencies – Division of Real Estate
Ed Murray, La Plata Public Trustee and president of the Colorado Public Trustees’ Association
Sergeant Dave Oliver, Civil Division Director for City and County of Denver
Carol Snyder, Adams County Clerk and Recorder
Cynthia Taylor, Director of Consumer Division for the Boulder District Attorney’s Office


New Mexico forms partnership with notaries to fight fraud

The National Notary Association has formed a partnership with New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron to educate the state’s notaries on fighting fraud.

Notaries in New Mexico will now be able to take a state-specific training course through NNA’s online program. Vigil-Giron says document fraud and identity theft crimes have skyrocketed nationwide and notaries can play a crucial role in fighting these crimes.

Businesses and governments rely on notaries to determine critical facts of transactions worth millions of dollars, she added. The online course through NNA will help ensure notaries “are prepared to encounter the criminal minds intent on committing fraud and identity theft,” she said.

New Mexico notaries can register for the course through the Secretary of State’s Web site at www.sos.state.nm.us .


Central Point man arrested for fraud over mobile homes

A Central Point man was arrested Tuesday in connection with the Alpine Mountain Homes Inc. racketeering investigation being conducted by Medford detectives.

Marcus Allen Carter , 23, of the 500 block of North Fifth Street, was arrested on charges of first-degree aggravated theft, mortgage fraud and first-degree forgery. He was lodged in Jackson County Jail, where he remained late Tuesday on $20,000 bail. The charges stem from actions taken by Carter while he was an employee of Alpine Mountain Homes Inc, police said.

Alpine Mountain Homes Inc. allegedly stole more than $450,000 from 15 people who accused the company of charging them for services they never received. The victims claim to have made payments towards mobile homes before the company closed down its Medford and White City offices earlier this year, police said.

Attorney General Hardy Myers in June filed a lawsuit against former owners Gary A. Waggoner of Medford and Brad M. and Deborah A. Blanchard of Rogue River.

The lawsuit alleged that the defendant’s violated the racketeering law through a pattern of activities that included multiple thefts, an instance of forgery and violation of the state’s mortgage banker/broker law, officials said.

The attorney general’s lawsuit seeks restitution for all of the victims. It also seeks to permanently prohibit Waggoner and the Blanchards from operating, owning or investing in any business that sells or finances manufactured homes in Oregon.


Maryland corrections officer indicted for making false statements to HUD

BALTIMORE , Maryland - United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein announces that yesterday a federal grand jury indicted Crystal Gatling, age 33, of Baltimore, for making a false statement in a questionnaire for renewal of public housing to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The one-count indictment charges that Gatling told HUD that she did not receive or anticipate receiving salaries or wages, when she was actually receiving a salary of $34,151 from the Department of Public Safety and Corrections. Gatling was arrested this morning and an initial appearance is scheduled at 3:15 p.m. before a magistrate judge in federal court.

The defendant faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, followed by three years of supervised release.

Men used false mortgage deed to hide fraud proceeds from IRS

Two Orlando-area brothers, Clarence Keith LaMonda and Jess Lamonda, have been indicted on charges they allegedly conspired to commit mail and wire fraud and tax-related crimes in which they took more than $13 million from investors and insurance companies while brokering life insurance policies for the terminally ill and elderly. They pled not guilty in federal court and were released on bond.

The indictment accused the brothers of buying viatical policies on which applicants lied about their health conditions and failed to notify life insurance companies that policyholders had sold their interests to the brothers’ company, Accelerated Benefits Corp. (ABC).

An associate, former attorney John Maynard, also was charged with tax conspiracy for allegedly creating a Bahamas shell company for deposits and transfers, creating a false mortgage deed and other acts to conceal the origin of the invested moneys from the Internal Revenue Service, according to the indictment.


Centerville Woman Convicted Of Money Laundering

United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan; Joseph A. Galasso, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; and Colonel Thomas G. Robbins, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, announced that LYNN ALBERICO, age 43, of 68 Old Farm Road, Centerville, Massachusetts, was convicted by a jury sitting before U.S. District Judge Patti B. Saris of conspiracy to commit money laundering, making and subscribing to a false tax return, and failure to file a tax return.

Evidence presented during the nine-day trial proved that on July 9, 1997, Stephen Queen, formerly of Hyannis, illegally obtained over $900,000 in cash from his parents’ safe deposit boxes in Florida. Mr. Queen returned to Hyannis, on July 12, 1997 with the cash. The evidence proved that ALBERICO, along with her now ex-boyfriend, George Upton, stole the money from Mr. Queen and subsequently laundered a portion of it through the purchase of real estate at 89 Iyanough Road in Hyannis. The evidence also proved that on August 29, 1997, ALBERICO and Upton purchased a commercial property at 89 Iyanough Road in Hyannis with the stolen money. The property was purchased with 13 separate cashier’s checks that were acquired by ALBERICO, Upton, and four other individuals recruited by Upton. The cashier’s checks were purchased through a series of convoluted currency transactions, involving structured deposits in amounts below $10,000, deposits into individual and business bank accounts, and cash purchases. In addition, the evidence proved that ALBERICO and Upton put a phony mortgage on the property in order to conceal the purchase of the property with cash.

The evidence also showed that of the $900,000 stolen, ALBERICO received approximately $100,000 of it. She did not report this additional income on her 1997 federal tax return, but instead reported an adjusted gross income of $17,341 from her business, Alberico’s Alteration and Tailoring. In 1999, when ALBERICO and Upton sold 89 Iyanough Road, ALBERICO received approximately $39,000 of the profit. The evidence showed that despite this profit, ALBERICO did not file an income tax return at all in 1999.

Judge Saris scheduled sentencing for November 14, 2005. ALBERICO faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and a fine of at least $250,000.

George Upton, age 51, of 88 Yarmouth Road, Hyannis, Massachusetts, was convicted of all charges following a jury trial in October, 2004, and was sentenced to 13 ½ years’ imprisonment for the charges.

The disappearance and presumed homicide of Stephen Queen remains under active investigation.