Dallas Residents, Affiliated With Bridgemark Investment Group, Plead Guilty To Roles In Mortgage Fraud Conspiracy
Fraud Resulted in More Than $10 Million in Fraudulently Obtained Loan Proceeds
DALLAS — On the day before their trial was to begin in federal court, Dallas residents, Eric Damon Johnson and Tracie Elaine Stenson, pleaded guilty to their roles in a mortgage fraud conspiracy that they ran in Dallas, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
Johnson, 51, pleaded guilty to a superseding information charging one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution. According to the terms of his plea agreement, the government agreed to recommend a sentence of not more than 48 months; that recommendation, however, is not binding upon the Court. Johnson was a licensed loan officer and mortgage broker and the president of Bridgemark Investment Group (BIG), which had offices on Hampton Road in Desoto, Texas. BIG’s motto was “Bridging the Gap between the Poor and the Wealthy.”
Stenson, 50, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, as charged in the indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Dallas in October 2011. According to the terms of her plea agreement, and if the Court accepts the terms of that plea agreement, the parties agree that a sentence of no more than 84 months in custody is the appropriate disposition of the case. As the Chief of Operations at BIG, Stenson worked as a loan officer and processor.
According to documents filed in the case, Johnson and Stenson conspired to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans in excess of the true sales price of residential real estate properties by making false statements on loan applications and submitting fake invoices for construction upgrades or repairs that were never performed. The conspiracy resulted in more than $10 million in fraudulently-obtained loan proceeds.
BIG recruited individuals to purchase residential real estate as “investors” and Johnson and Stenson promised investors that BIG would find tenants to rent the property and make the mortgage payments. Johnson and Stenson agreed to make payments to the “investors” when the loan closed that were not disclosed to the mortgage lender on the HUD-1 Settlement Statement. Stenson prepared false loan applications for the investors that included, among other things, material misrepresentations regarding the borrower’s monthly income, intention to occupy the property, assets and liabilities. The loan applications were submitted to residential mortgage lenders, who on the basis of the false statements in the loan applications, agreed to fund primary and secondary mortgages for residential real estate properties.
This case is being prosecuted in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorney’s offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants, including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.stopfraud.gov.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Nicholas Bunch and P.J. Meitl are in charge of the prosecution.