MULTIPLE INDIVIDUALS PROSECUTED FOR MORTGAGE FRAUD
PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – Three individuals have been federally indicted for their involvement in multiple multi-jurisdictional mortgage fraud schemes. The indictments were announced today by Pamela C. Marsh, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. The prosecution of these three individuals is the result of ongoing investigations being handled by Special Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the State of Florida Office of Financial Regulation-Bureau of Financial Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
These prosecutions are a continuation of this office’s efforts to combat mortgage fraud. A year ago many mortgage fraud prosecutions were announced as part of Operation Stolen Dreams, a nationwide sweep that targeted mortgage fraud throughout the country and was the largest collective enforcement effort ever brought to bear in confronting mortgage fraud. The operation was organized by the Mortgage Fraud Working Group of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which was established to lead an aggressive, coordinated effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.
In January, a Federal Grand Jury in Pensacola returned a three-count Indictment against Annita Hawes, 46, of Los Angeles, California, charging Hawes with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and identity theft. Hawes pled guilty to the charges in March and is scheduled to be sentenced by Senior District Judge Roger Vinson on August 9, 2011. In pleading guilty, Hawes admitted her involvement in a multi-jurisdictional mortgage fraud scheme with ties to Florida, Georgia, and California. Hawes’ entered into a contract to purchase a residence in Santa Rosa Beach for just over $1.2 million. To purchase the home, Hawes obtained a first mortgage for $990,000 and a second mortgage line of credit for $123,750 from U.S. Bank N.A. In the loan applications, Hawes used a false name, a fraudulent date of birth, and a fraudulent social security number. After the closing of the loans and following a series of financial transactions, approximately $172,400 was deposited into a business bank account that Hawes opened using an alias. Hawes faces a maximum of thirty years in prison for the conspiracy and bank fraud charges and a maximum of five years in prison for the identity theft charge.
In April, a Federal Grand Jury returned a three-count Indictment against Bryan A. Pool, 43, of Los Angeles, California, charging bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. On June 6, 2011, Pool was arraigned on the Indictment by United States Magistrate Judge Charles Kahn, and Pool pled not guilty. The charges contained in the Indictment allege that Pool entered into a contract to purchase a residence in Inlet Beach, for $ 1.5 million, and obtained a first mortgage for $975,000 and a $225,000 second mortgage line of credit from U.S. Bank N.A. to fund the purchase. The Indictment further alleges that, after closing on the loans and following a series of financial transactions, approximately $124,920 was transferred into a bank account held in Pool’s name. Pool’s case has been assigned to Senior District Judge Lacey A. Collier, and a jury trial is scheduled for August 1, 2011. Pool faces a maximum of thirty years in prison for the conspiracy to commit bank fraud and the bank fraud charges and a maximum of twenty years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering. An Indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
On June 8, 2011, Dorothy Rodriguez, 54, of Tampa, Florida, appeared in federal court in Pensacola, waived her right to an Indictment by a grand jury, and pled guilty to an Information charging her with mail fraud that affected a financial institution. Rodriguez is scheduled to be sentenced by District Judge M. Casey Rodgers on a date after August 17, 2011, and faces a maximum of thirty years in prison. In pleading guilty, Rodriguez admitted her involvement in a mortgage fraud scheme in which she entered into a contract to purchase a residence located in Navarre, Florida, for $630,000. To purchase the residence, Rodriguez obtained a first mortgage for $500,000 and a second mortgage for $66,500 from GMAC Mortgage, LLC. In the loan applications, Rodriguez falsely claimed that she had a monthly salary in excess of $12,000 and that she intended to use the Navarre property as her primary residence, when in fact, Rodriguez’s monthly salary was less than $2,500 and she did not intend to use the property as her primary residence. Once Rodriguez closed on the Navarre property loans, she received a $10,000 kickback.
“Combating mortgage fraud continues to be a primary focus of the Department of Justice. Mortgage fraud is one of the most serious economic crimes in our are, and it has contributed significantly to the current economic crisis in Florida,” said U.S. Attorney Pamela C. Marsh. “We have seen mortgage fraud schemes that resulted in dozens of foreclosures and millions of dollars in losses, as well as fraudsters who have bankrupted entire companies and national lenders who were not playing by the rules. We will continue to aggressively prosecute individuals who perpetrate this kind of devastating financial crime in our communities.”
Mortgage fraud is a priority area for the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information on the task force, visit StopFraud.gov.
These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tiffany H. Eggers.