News and Press Releases

FOUR MIAMI RESIDENTS ARE SENTENCED FOR MORTGAGE FRAUD SCHEME AGAINST WACHOVIA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 29, 2010

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, James Loftus, Director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, Economic Crimes Bureau, and Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, announced the sentencings of defendants Sixto Figueroa, 58, his wife Susy Figueroa, 45, Rolando Herrera, 64, and Manuel Garcia, 41, all of Miami, for their roles in a mortgage fraud scheme, which resulted in the issuance of $832,118 in mortgage loans from Wachovia Bank.

Following a jury trial, the defendants were found guilty of committing bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1349 and 1344. According to the facts revealed at trial, defendants Sixto and Susy Figueroa owned residential lots in Port Labelle, Florida. The Figueroas recruited associates, including defendants Herrera and Garcia, who each received a fee for their participation in the scheme, to purchase lots from the Figueroas at inflated prices. Without the bank’s knowledge, the Figueroas provided all of the buyers with the down payment to buy the properties and money to pay the mortgages for a period of time.

As part of the scheme, the Figueroas submitted fraudulent loan applications to Wachovia Bank. The applications contained false information regarding the straw buyers’ financial condition, including fraudulent tax returns and fabricated bank statements, which falsely suggested that the straw buyers had greater income and assets than they actually did. Additionally, the HUD-1 Settlement Statements provided to Wachovia falsely stated that the straw buyers would use their own money to pay closing obligations, including the down payment. In fact, however, the Figueroas paid all of the straw buyers’ closing obligations.

After the loans were approved, the bank forwarded the loan proceeds to a title company for closing. For three purported property sales, at the Figueroa’s insistence, the title agent improperly released these funds to the Figueroas, who, in turn, used the money to pay the straw buyers’ closing obligations for those three deals.

After the closing, each of the Wachovia mortgage loans eventually went into default after the non-qualifying straw buyers failed to make the required mortgage payments, resulting in substantial losses to Wachovia.

U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard sentenced Sixto Figueroa to 71 months’ imprisonment, Susy Figueroa to 46 months’ imprisonment, Rolando Herrera to 36 months’ imprisonment, and Manuel Garcia to 30 months’ imprisonment. The court also entered a money judgment against each of the defendants in the amount of $832,118, as well as ordering the defendants to pay restitution.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Federal-State Mortgage Fraud Strike Force with a special commendation to the Miami-Dade Police Department and the United States Secret Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph B. Shumofsky and Andrew K. Levi.

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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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