News and Press Releases

BROWARD TITLE ATTORNEY, MORTGAGE BROKER AND REAL ESTATE AGENT CHARGED IN MORTGAGE FRAUD CONSPIRACY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 15, 2010

Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, Miami Field Office, and Al Lamberti, Sheriff, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, announced that Jerry Arthur Riggs, Jacqueline Lopez, and Novelette “Faye” Hanse, all of Broward County, Florida, were charged in a nine count Indictment in connection with their participation in a mortgage fraud scheme. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth A. Marra in West Palm Beach, Florida. The defendants made their initial appearances this morning before U.S. Magistrate Linnea R. Johnson.

More specifically, the defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371; three counts of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341; four counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343; and one count of making a false statement to a government agency, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1001. If convicted, the conspiracy and false statement counts carry a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment. The mail fraud and wire fraud counts carry a maximum penalty of twenty years’ imprisonment.

According to the Indictment, the defendants engaged in a scheme to enrich themselves by fraudulently causing real property in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties to be bought and sold through straw buyers, using identities that had been stolen from unwitting individuals. In order to obtain mortgages on these properties, the defendants allegedly submitted and caused the submission of fraudulent documents to the mortgage lenders. Based on these false documents, the mortgage lenders issued approximately $2,000,000 in loans to the defendants and their co-conspirators.

Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Secret Service and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Laurie E. Rucoba.

An Indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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