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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Arizona

Friday, June 1, 2012

Ten Indicted In Valley Mortgage Fraud Scheme

PHOENIX – On May 30, 2012, a federal grand jury in Phoenix returned a 43 count indictment against ten individuals, which includes charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, false statements, false representation of Social Security number, and aggravated identity theft. On June 21, 2012, Joel Martinez, 41, of Phoenix, Ariz., was ordered detained pending trial on those charges. The other nine individuals charged in the indictment are:

  • Julio Cesar Esquivel Reyes 38;
  • Estefana Salazar Olivares 38, wife of Esquivel Reyes;
  • Claudia Salazar Olivares 31, sister-in-law of Esquivel Reyes;
  • Martha Elena Gonzalez 39, sister-in-law of Esquivel Reyes;
  • Andres M. Esquivel 64, father of Esquivel Reyes;
  • Evangelina Gardner 49, girlfriend of Esquivel Reyes’s father;
  • Solomon Moses Worden 36;
  • Edgar Lira 40; and
  • Luis Antonio Maldonado Tovar 48, pastor of Grupo Amistad Church in Phoenix.

  The indictment alleges that between June of 2001 and May of 2012, the defendants purchased a number of properties throughout the Valley, with Esquivel Reyes and Evangelina Gardner acting as real estate agents for a number of the transactions and Estefana Olivares, Martha Gonzalez, and Claudia Olivares processing many of the loans. The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to:

  • Obtain mortgage loans by providing false information to lenders;
  • Use false information to refinance the fraudulently obtained mortgage loans and receive “cash back” prior to defaulting on the loans;
  • Obtain commissions from the sale of properties by and between conspirators; and
  • Sell fraudulently obtained properties to other members of the conspiracy for drastically reduced prices through short sales;

Convictions for conspiracy and false representation of a Social Security number each carry a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. Convictions for wire fraud affecting a financial institution and false statements to a lending institution each carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine, or both. A conviction for aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory penalty of 2 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. In determining an actual sentence, U.S. District Chief Judge Roslyn O. Silver will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.

An indictment is simply a method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations in Phoenix and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation. The prosecution is being handled by Jennifer Levinson, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

CASE NUMBER:                  CR-12-01122-PHX-ROS
RELEASE NUMBER:           2012-161(Esquivel Reyes_etal)

For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit

Updated January 7, 2015