News and Press Releases

TWO MIAMI-DADE AND ONE BROWARD RESIDENT CHARGED IN $12 MILLION BANK FRAUD SCHEME

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 4, 2010

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, Miami Field Office, Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations, Miami Field Office, and Miguel Exposito, Chief, City of Miami Police Department, announced the filing of an indictment charging defendants Richard Garcia, 29, of Miami, Berta Sanders, 61, of Miami Lakes, and Luis Felipe Perez, 38, of Fort Lauderdale, with conspiracy to commit bank fraud in connection with a $12 million scheme. Garcia was also charged with six-counts of receiving gifts to procure loans.

According to the indictment, from approximately November 2005 through March 2008, Garcia, Sanders, and Perez, conspired to submit false loan applications to Wells Fargo Bank (formerly known as Wachovia Bank) for the purpose of obtaining approximately $12 million in commercial lines of credit.

To execute the scheme, Sanders, a Certified Public Accountant, promoted herself as someone who could help borrowers get approval for the lines of credit by preparing their loan applications. Sanders allegedly prepared loan applications on behalf of the borrowers, which contained false information about the borrower’s business income, assets, and accounts receivable. Sanders also prepared false tax returns, bank statements, and personal financial statements in connection with the line of credit applications.

According to the indictment, Garcia was a loan officer at Wachovia Bank, who assisted Sanders in processing these fraudulent loans on behalf of the borrowers, and advised Sanders as to what information in the applications needed to be falsified to secure bank approval for the loans.

The indictment further alleges that, as compensation for preparing the false loan applications that were submitted to Wachovia Bank, the borrowers paid Sanders a fee of approximately 10% of the loan amount. Sanders then paid a portion of these fees to Garcia as compensation for his assistance in preparing and processing the fraudulent applications.

Perez, who was previously charged on June 2, 2010 in connection with a $40 million securities fraud Ponzi scheme, is alleged to have recruited many borrowers and referred them to Sander’s for assistance in applying for the commercial lines of credit. Perez induced many of these individuals to obtain loans in order to invest the proceeds in a separate business venture he controlled.

During this scheme, Garcia, Sanders, and Perez conspired to obtain approximately $12 million in lines of credit from Wachovia Bank, which resulted in approximately $10 million in losses to the bank.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Secret Service, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations in Miami, and the City of Miami Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew K. Levi and Richard Gregorie.

This law enforcement action is sponsored by the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. 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.

An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until 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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