Thursday, March 04, 2010
Attorney Charged with Settlement Statement Fraud
Stephen M. Gunther, Virginia Beach, Virginia, has been charged wire fraud related to a scheme to defraud mortgage lenders.
Per court documents, Gunther, an attorney, acted as a settlement agent in connection with the closing of residential real estate loans in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake, Virginia.Gunther is accused of preparing and submitting HUD-1 settlement statements that did not accurately reflect receipts and disbursement of funds.
If convicted, Gunther will be required to forfeit any property, real or personal, which constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to said violation.
Wayne Marlon Benedic Lezama, 44, Virginia Beach, Virginia, pled guilty on November 23, 2009 in Norfolk federal court to wire fraud in connection with a scheme to obtain over three million dollars in mortgage loans to purchase properties in the Tidewater, Virginia area.
According to court documents Lezama participated in a scheme from August 2005 until January 2007 to obtain mortgage financing to purchase homes throughout southeastern Virginia, including real estate in the cities of Norfolk, Hampton, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Suffolk. The property would be purchased in the name of Lezama or a nominee buyer. During the course of the scheme over three million dollars in financing was obtained through fraudulent means, including submitting false financial information regarding down payments, monthly income and liquid assets.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, made the announcement today. Lezama's plea of guilty was accepted by United States District Judge Henry Coke Morgan, Jr. Lezama faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, one million dollars in fines and full restitution when he is sentenced on February 23, 2010.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Robert J. Seidel, Jr. prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.
Richard Garries, 45, Newport News, Virginia, has been sentenced to 240 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, for charges related to an elaborate mortgage fraud scheme. He was also ordered to pay more than $900,000 in restitution.
As previously reported on Mortgage Fraud Blog, in May of 2009, Garries was convicted on 24 charges that included conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, structuring and making materially false statements. According to court records and evidence introduced at trial, from the summer of 2005 to May 2008, Garries conspired with others to make money through the resale - or flipping - of residential properties to buyers he brought in through false promises that the properties had been renovated, renters had been arranged for the properties, buyers would not have to spend their own funds, and that buyers would be provided with cash back at closing.
To secure mortgage loans for buyers, evidence showed that Garries inflated the buyers' income levels and bank account balances on loan applications and provided them with money to make it appear the buyers had more funds available to qualify for a loan and/or to have the necessary funds to proceed with closing on the property. Garries arranged for buyers to use lenders selected by him to obtain loan financing, for which Garries received a commission. At the time of the offense, Garries was on probation from a previous federal conviction for wire fraud, for which he received a 25-month sentence. Following his release, Garries, who is originally from New York, lived in Newport News. While on supervised probation, he made numerous false statements to his probation officer concealing income and assets. On June 8, 2009, Garries was ordered to serve 24 months in prison for violating his probation. Today, Judge Doumar orderedGarries to serve his 240-month sentence consecutive to the 24-month sentence previously imposed.
This case was investigated by Newport News Police Department, the Internal Revenue Service, and U.S. Secret Service. Assistant United States Attorneys Brian Samuels and Lisa McKeel prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, made the announcement October 13th, 2009, after sentencing by United States District Judge Robert G. Doumar.
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