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SIX LOS ANGELES COUNTY RESIDENTS CHARGED IN $4 MILLION MORTGAGE FRAUD SCHEME

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 8, 2011

LOS ANGELES – Six Los Angeles County residents have been charged for their roles in a mortgage fraud scheme that used fraudulent loan applications and supporting documents to convince lenders to fund approximately 20 loans that resulted in approximately $4 million in losses.

Defendants Anthony Lewis, 38, of the San Fernando Valley, Maria Arriaza, 33, formerly an escrow officer from Palmdale, and Deon Jackson, 36, a mortgage broker from Gardena, were indicted by a federal Grand Jury on June 23, 2011 on three charges of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343 and one charge of conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371.  If convicted each faces a maximum sentence of 95 years imprisonment and a fine of $1,000,000 or twice the amount of the total losses to the lenders.  The case has been assigned to the Honorable Philip S. Gutierrez, United States District Judge.   

In informations filed on June 24, 2011, Jennifer Le, 29, formerly a loan processor from the South Bay, is charged with conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, while Matthew Balsz, 31, a former U.S. Bank employee from the South Bay, and Freddy Lentz, 34, a former Bank of America employee from Antelope Valley, are charged with accepting bribes to assist the mortgage fraud scheme, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 215(a)(2).

According to the indictment and the informations, Lewis and others obtained funds from financial institutions by making false statements on, and omitting material information from, loan applications submitted to purchase houses in the names of straw buyers.  Lewis identified properties for purchase and gave fraudulent loan applications to Jackson and Le.  Jackson reviewed the false applications and told Lewis what financial information was necessary to qualify straw borrowers for loans. Lewis then obtained fraudulent documents such as false bank statements, Forms W-2, and pay-stubs.  Lewis, Jackson, and Le also obtained false verification of deposit forms from the two bank employees receiving bribes from Lewis.  Jackson and Le submitted the fraudulent loan applications to lenders.  Once the loans were approved and funds were wired to Arriaza’s escrow company, Diamond Clear Escrow in Grenada Hills, California, Arriaza disbursed funds intended for the purported buyers to certain co-conspirators and others, at Lewis’ directions.  In order to conceal the true nature of these disbursements, Arriaza prepared false settlement statements for the lenders. 

Indictments and informations contain allegations that defendants have committed  crimes.  Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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Release No. 11-096

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