Savage woman pleads guilty to role in mortgage fraud scheme
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2012
MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court, a 49-year-old real estate agent from
Savage pleaded guilty to participating in a multi-million-dollar mortgage fraud scheme that
victimized lenders across the country. Barbara Lynnae Puro specifically pleaded to one count of
conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Puro, who was indicted on September 8, 2011, entered her
plea before United States District Court Judge Joan N. Ericksen. She did not enter a plea
The indictment against Puro states that from January 1, 2005, through January 1, 2008, she
conspired with others to obtain loan proceeds by making false representations to and
withholding material information from lenders. During that time, she was employed by
HomStar USA, ReMax Advantage Plus, and Coldwell Banker Burnet, where she was
responsible for recruiting and representing buyers and sellers of residential properties. Puro also
owned TRAE, Inc., a corporation associated with her real estate endeavors.
As part of this scheme, Puro arranged for unwitting homeowners to sell their properties to
straw buyers at inflated prices. In each instance, she funneled to co-conspirators the difference
between the amount paid to the seller and the inflated sale price. In addition to representing
these sellers, Puro often represented straw purchasers too. On their behalf, she routinely
produced fraudulent documentation for lenders and title companies. She also regularly caused
loan proceeds to be disbursed to her co-conspirators or into accounts that she controlled. In
addition to receiving concealed disbursements, Puro also collected substantial real estate
commissions that exceeded industry standards.
Puro and her co-conspirators convinced straw buyers to purchase approximately 22
residential properties in Minnesota, resulting in fraudulent loans in excess of $10 million and
losses of approximately $5.3 million. The properties included locations in Savage and Prior
For her crime, Puro faces a potential maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Judge
Ericksen will determine her sentence at a future hearing.
On September 15, 2011, co-conspirator Zack Zafer Dyab, age 47, of Golden Valley, was
sentenced to 120 months in prison on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one
count of money laundering in connection to this crime. Dyab was indicted along with Julia
Alexander Rozhansky, age 47, of Minnetonka, on December 8, 2009. Both defendants pleaded
guilty on October 26, 2010. On September 16, 2011, Rozhansky was sentenced to 60 months on
one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. On July 12, 2011, Larry Africanus Hutchinson
was sentenced to 21 months on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Also on July 12,
Jerone Ian Mitchell was sentenced to 12 months and one day on one count of conspiracy.
Ericvan Anthony McDavid is scheduled to be sentenced on March 30, 2012.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the
Minnetonka Police Department, and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation
Division. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian S. Wilton.
This law enforcement action is in part sponsored by the interagency Financial Fraud
Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated
and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. It 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, 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
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