WASHINGTON – A former residential sales manager and a former contractor at a Florida property management company pleaded guilty today to wire fraud in connection with housing repair contracts for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Justice announced.
Joshua R. Nusbaum, a former residential sales manager at West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC, and Andrew J. Nusbaum, a former contractor for Ocwen, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Orlando, Fla., to wire fraud. According to a one-count felony charge filed on Dec. 27, 2011, in the Middle District of Florida, Ocwen managed foreclosed properties under contract with the VA, which guaranteed qualifying residential mortgages for veterans. Under the contract between the VA and Ocwen, if a veteran defaulted, Ocwen completed necessary repairs and re-sold the property.
Proceeds from the re-sale of VA-acquired properties directly benefit the VA by reducing the cost of guaranteeing residential mortgages to veterans.
According to court documents, the Nusbaums, who are brothers, engaged in fraud by having Joshua Nusbaum steer repair contracts to a company affiliated with Andrew Nusbaum in exchange for cash payments from in or about March 2006 and continuing until in or about April 2007. As a result of the scheme, Joshua Nusbaum received $14,000 in cash from Andrew Nusbaum. The department said, in order to execute the scheme, the Nusbaums sent each other competitive bid information and transmitted bids to Ocwen via wire communication.
A wire fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.
The Nusbaums' guilty pleas arise from an ongoing federal investigation of housing repair contracts performed under contract with the VA. On Dec. 3, 2010, Benjamin Graves pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Orlando, Fla., to wire fraud in connection with housing repair contracts for the VA. On Jan. 17, 2012, Ryan J. Piana, Ronald B. Hurst and Bryant A. Carbonell were indicted in U.S. District Court in Rockford, Ill., with conspiring to commit bribery and wire fraud, bribery and wire fraud in connection with housing repair contracts for the VA.
The investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division' s Chicago Field Office and the Central Field Office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division, located in Hines, Ill. Anyone with information concerning suspicious activity relating to housing repairs performed under a contract with the VA should contact the Antitrust Division' s Chicago Field Office at 312-353-7530 or visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm.