News and Press Releases

Broward Man Pleads Guilty for His Participation in Versailles Mortgage Fraud Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 11, 2012

More than 30 Defendants Have Been Sentenced in the Past Five Years inConnection with Mortgage Fraud Schemes at Versailles Development

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, Jeff Atwater, Chief Financial Officer, Florida’s Department of Financial Services, Addy M. Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Linda Charity, Interim Commissioner, State of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation, and the Palm Beach County Mortgage Fraud Task Force, announced that defendant Juan Carlos Rodriguez, 52, a real estate agent and mortgage broker from Weston, Florida, pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra for his participation in a mortgage fraud scheme relating to properties in the Versailles development in Wellington, Florida. Sentencing for Rodriguez has been scheduled for July 27, 2012.

Rodriguez pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and financial institution fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h).

Over the last five years, more than thirty defendants have been prosecuted for mortgage fraud schemes in the Versailles neighborhood. Most recently, in addition to Rodriguez, eight other individuals have pled guilty and been sentenced in four related mortgage fraud schemes that were centered in Versailles. They are:

Defendant David Lam, 42, a real estate agent from Parkland, Florida, pled guilty on January 17, 2012 to charges in four separate indictments. M ore specifically, he pled guilty to four counts of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and three counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h). In sum, the schemes alleged in the four indictments involved more than $15 million in mortgage loans on 12 Versailles properties, and more than $5 million in fraudulent loan proceeds. Lam was sentenced on April 20, 2012 by U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra to 42 months in prison, to be followed by 2 years of supervised release. The Court also ordered Lam to pay $7,117,000 in restitution.

Defendant Pamela Higgins, a mortgage broker who lived in Arizona at the time of the offense, pled guilty on November 4, 2011 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and financial institution fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code Section 1349, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code Section 1956(h). Higgins was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra on February 10, 2012 to 36 months in prison, to be followed by 2 years of supervised release. Higgins was ordered to pay $2,141,536 in restitution.

Defendant Carl Alexander, 45, of Parkland, Florida, pled guilty on October 5, 2011 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h). He was sentenced on January 6, 2012 by U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra to 48 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. The Court also ordered Alexander to pay $3,576,724 in restitution.

Defendant Carol Asbury, 59, an attorney and title agent in Lake Worth, Florida, pled guilty on September 9, 2011 to two counts of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h). Asbury was charged and pled guilty to charges in two indictments, both of which alleged mortgage fraud in the Versailles development. Asbury was sentenced on November 18, 2011 by U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra to 30 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay $6,510,291 in restitution.

Defendant Patrick Brinson, 34, of Miami, Florida, pled guilty on September 7, 2011 to two counts of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h). Brinson pled guilty to charges in two indictments, one of which alleged mortgage fraud in Versailles and one of which alleged a separate mortgage fraud scheme in Miami. Brinson was sentenced on November 29, 2011 by U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz to 78 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $1,602,250 in restitution.

Defendant Victoria Wilson, 30, a mortgage broker from Hollywood, Florida, pled guilty on August 19, 2011 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349. Wilson was sentenced on November 30, 2011 by U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra to 24 months in prison, to be followed by 2 years of supervised release. Wilson was ordered to pay $1,655,466 in restitution.

Defendant David Charles Miller, Jr., 44, Miramar, Florida, pled guilty on February 3, 2012 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349. Miller was sentenced on April 20, 2012 by U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra to 27 months in prison, to be followed by 2 years of supervised release. Miller was ordered to pay $1,655,466 in restitution.

Defendant Thomas Thelusma, 41, a Miami firefighter from Biscayne Park, Florida, pled guilty on February 2, 2012 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349. Thelusma was sentenced on April 20, 2012 by U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra to 18 months in prison, to be followed by 2 years of supervised release. Thelusma was ordered to pay $1,035,000 in restitution.

According to court documents, in all four of the recent Versailles-related indictments, the defendants used “straw buyers” to submit false documentation to various mortgage lenders substantially inflating the purchase price of the properties. As part of the conspiracy, duplicate HUD-1 Settlement Statements were prepared. One set, listing the real price, was provided to the seller; another set, with the inflated price, was provided to the lender. The difference between the real price and the inflated price was either made to appear as if it were a debt owed to business entities controlled by the defendants and their co-conspirators, or was made to appear as profits to the seller. The fraudulent loan proceeds were then laundered through multiple accounts to conceal the source and distribution of the money and were ultimately used for the benefit of the defendants and their co-conspirators.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, IRS-CID, U.S. Secret Service, Florida’s Department of Financial Services and Office of Financial Regulation, FDLE, and the Palm Beach County Mortgage Fraud Task Force. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Evans, Ellen Cohen, Carolyn Bell and Armando Rosquete.

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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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