News and Press Releases

Three Florida Men Sentenced to Federal Prison on Charges of Arson, Insurance Fraud and Mortgage Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2012

Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Hugo J. Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and James K. Loftus, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), announce the sentencings of Gerardo Wilhelm, of Miami, Juan J. Flores, of Ocala, and Alejandro Figueredo, of Miami, for their participation in a townhouse arson, mortgage fraud and insurance fraud scheme that resulted in losses of more than $500,000. On July 24, 2012, U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams sentenced Figueredo to 40 months in prison and Wilhelm to 54 months in prison. Flores was sentenced on July 19, 2012 by Judge Williams to 60 months in prison.

According to the indictment and statements made in court during the guilty pleas, Wilhelm, a real estate agent, Flores, a mortgage broker, and Figueredo, an insurance adjuster, engaged in a string of federal crimes involving a townhouse in Miami-Dade County. In early 2006, Wilhelm obtained mortgage loans to purchase the property by misrepresenting his and his wife’s employment and by falsely stating that they intended to use of the property as their primary residence. Wilhelm then rented the townhouse until it no longer generated income. In late 2007, after foreclosure proceedings were initiated against him, Wilhelm hired Flores and Figueredo to burn down the house. Figueredo received second and third-degree burns to approximately a third of his body from the explosion. After the fire, defendant Wilhelm submitted a fraudulent insurance claim for the damage, and received approximately $180,000 in insurance proceeds, made payable to the lender. However, Wilhelm forged the endorsement on the insurance check and kept the money.

After misappropriating the insurance money, Wilhelm obtained a loan modification, in the form of a short sale, from the defrauded lender that held the mortgage loans on the townhouse. In carrying out this short sale, Wilhelm hired a straw buyer to purchase the property. After the sale was completed, the straw buyer transferred the townhouse title to Wilhelm. Thereafter, Wilhelm and his accomplices sold the townhouse for $240,000, resulting in a $500,000 loss to the financial institutions.

U.S. Attorney Ferrer commended the hard work of the Federal State Mortgage Fraud Strike Force, with special commendation to ATF and Miami-Dade Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Cruz.

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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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