President of Real Estate Loan Company Sentenced to 55 Months in Prison, Ordered to Pay $1.5 Million, for Fraud Scheme
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - A resident of Pittsburgh, Pa., has been sentenced in federal court to 55 months of incarceration on his conviction of wire fraud, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
Senior United States District Judge Maurice Cohill imposed the sentence on Jason Sheppard, 31. Sheppard has been incarcerated since his arrest after he violated the conditions of his bond and fled the jurisdiction. As part of his sentencing, he was ordered to pay approximately $1.5 million in restitution.
According to information presented to the court, Sheppard was the president of TruClose Financial Services, which is a company that closed loans collateralized by real estate with an office in Mt. Lebanon. For much of 2009 Sheppard withdrew money from TruClose's accounts, and spent the majority of the money paying off gambling obligations and substantiating his life style. In just a few months (October through December 2009) Sheppard sent nearly $600,000 to casinos from the accounts of TruClose Financial. Sheppard also wire transferred money into his wife's account and used the business's account to pay her substantial credit card bills. The shortfall that Sheppard caused is approximately $1.5 million.
As part of the closing of real estate transactions, representatives of TruClose signed settlement statements that represented to the lenders that the liabilities associated with the collateral would be paid off. The payment of those liabilities would ensure that the lenders would be in the first lien position and that the borrowers had only one mortgage on the property. Sheppard withdrew so much money from the accounts of TruClose, however, that TruClose could not pay the liabilities that were required to be paid as part of the closings, and some of the checks used to pay the liabilities bounced. Sheppard knew that TruClose could not pay its liabilities, but he instructed the employees to close the transactions anyway.
Assistant United States Attorney Brendan T. Conway prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.
U.S. Attorney Hickton commended the Mortgage Fraud Task Force for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Sheppard. The Mortgage Fraud Task Force is comprised of investigators from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and others involved in the mortgage industry. Federal law enforcement agencies participating in the Mortgage Task Force include the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation; the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; the United States Postal Inspection Service; and the United States Secret Service. Other Mortgage Fraud Task Force members include the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office; the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, Bureau of Consumer Protection; the Pennsylvania Department of Banking; the Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation; and the United States Trustee's Office.