News and Press Releases

MIAMI ACCOUNTANT PLEADS GUILTY TO $31 MILLION BANK FRAUD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 29, 2010

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, Miami Field Office, and Miguel Exposito, Chief, City of Miami Police Department announced that a Berta Sanders, a 61 year old Certified Public Accountant of Miami Lakes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

From approximately November 2005 through March 2008, Sanders conspired to submit false loan applications to Wells Fargo Bank (formerly known as Wachovia Bank) in order to obtain approximately $12 million in commercial lines of credit. Sanders promoted herself as someone who could help borrowers get approval for the lines of credit by preparing their loan applications.

Sanders prepared fraudulent 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.

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 a Wachovia bank officer as compensation for his assistance in preparing and processing the fraudulent applications.

During this scheme, Sanders, conspired to obtain approximately $12 million in lines of credit from Wachovia Bank, which has resulted in approximately $10 million in losses to the bank. Sanders also admitted in court that between 2005 and 2008 she prepared additional fraudulent loan applications that have resulted in $19 million in losses to Wachovia. In total, Sanders is responsible for approximately $31 million in losses to the bank.

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

This law enforcement action is sponsored by President Barack Obama's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force 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.

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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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