Attorney Pleads Guilty in Mortgage Fraud Scheme
PITTSBURGH - An attorney pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of wire fraud, filing false income tax returns , and failing to file income tax returns, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
On Jan. 25, 2013, Lisa Gerideau-Williams, 46, of New Kensington, Pa., pleaded guilty to sixteen counts before Chief United States District Judge Gary L. Lancaster.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Gerideau-Williams was an attorney who operated a mortgage broker business called Genesis Home Solutions, and two companies specializing in closing real estate transactions called Millennium Settlement Services and Professional Settlement Solutions. Through these companies Gerideau-Williams operated a complex and multi-faceted fraud scheme.
One aspect of the scheme involved the submission of loan applications to lenders. The loan applications were fraudulent because Gerideau-Williams submitted them without the authority of the borrowers and they contained false information related to the borrowers' financial condition. For example, Gerideau-Williams submitted loan applications on behalf of her brother and her elderly aunt that were not authorized by either. In addition, Gerideau-Williams represented to lenders that her elderly aunt owned and operated a lucrative cleaning business when, in fact, her aunt was a retired state worker. Gerideau-Williams also furthered the fraud by submitted fake documents supporting the misrepresentations in the loan applications and by forging the signature of her brother and her aunt.
Gerideau-Williams' fraud also related to her operation of businesses that closed real estate transactions. Gerideau-Williams received money from lenders into her trust account that was required to be disbursed to pay liabilities associated with the collateral. In that way the lender would stand in the first lien position related to the collateral. Gerideau-Williams, rather than paying those liabilities, would simply take the money and use it to support her lavish lifestyle.
Gerideau-Williams also defrauded borrowers. Borrowers paid for title insurance and for other services such as recording deeds and mortgages. Rather than providing these services, however, Gerideau-Williams simply took the fees for those services, but failed to actually provide those services.
Title insurance companies were also victimized by Gerideau-Williams' fraud. At closings, Gerideau-Williams colleted fees from borrowers for title insurance. Gerideau-Williams, however, failed to remit those payments to the title insurance companies. In addition, some of the title insurance companies terminated Gerideau-Williams' authority to issue title insurance under their names. Despite the termination, however, Gerideau-Williams continued to issue title insurance on fraudulent transactions as if she was authorized to do so.
Gerideau-Williams' fraud was particularly egregious related to the property located in Pittsburgh, Pa. Prior to 2005, Gerideau-Williams rented that property and it was her residence. On Sept. 6, 2005, through her fraudulent businesses, she sold the property from the rightful owner of the property to her elderly aunt without the knowledge of either the owner or her aunt. A lender financed the purchase, and Gerideau-Williams simply took all of the proceeds from the transaction for her personal benefit. Gerideau-Williams, however, did not record the deed or the mortgage related to the property and therefore the property still appeared on the public record to be owned by the rightful owner of the property free of any mortgages.
On March 13, 2006, Gerideau-Williams arranged to purchase the property in her own name financed through a fraudulently obtained loan. While she recorded the deed transferring ownership of the property to her own name, she did not record the mortgage and therefore, according to the public record, it appeared that she owned the property free of any liens.
On Aug. 7, 2006, Gerideau-Williams sold the property to her brother, and her brother financed the purchase through a fraudulently obtained loan secured by Gerideau-Williams. Gerideau-Williams received the proceeds from the sale, but she did not record the deed or the mortgage and therefore the public record still showed that she owned the property free of any liens.
On Jan. 19, 2007, Gerideau-Williams sold the property to her brother again, and her brother again financed the purchase through a fraudulently obtained loan secured by Gerideau-Williams. Gerideau-Williams again received the proceeds from the sale, but she again did not record the deed or the mortgage and therefore the public record still showed that she owned the property free of any liens.
Finally, on Feb. 20, 2007, Gerideau-Williams sold the property to her brother again, and her brother again financed the purchase through a fraudulently obtained loan secured by Gerideau- Williams. Gerideau-Williams again received the proceeds from the sale, but she again did not record the deed or the mortgage and therefore the public record still showed that she owned the property free of any liens.
Equally egregious are the various loans Gerideau-Williams secured in the name of her elderly aunt. As mentioned above, Gerideau-Williams arranged for her aunt to purchase 120 Cypress Hills Drive from the rightful owner of the property. That purchase was financed through a loan fraudulently obtained by Gerideau-Williams.
Gerideau-Williams' aunt owned a home in Harrisburg, Pa. On Nov. 2, 2005, Gerideau- Williams arranged for a fraudulent refinance loan collateralized by her aunt's Harrisburg property.
On Jan. 30, 2007, Gerideau-Williams arranged for a second fraudulent refinance transaction collateralized by that same property.
On March 12, 2007 and March 21, 2007, Gerideau-Williams, without the authority of her elderly aunt, secured to other refinance transactions collateralized by that same property. For each transaction, Gerideau-Williams took the proceeds from the loans and used those proceeds to support her lavish lifestyle. In neither of those transactions, however, did she record the mortgages. In connection with those transactions she issued title insurance without the authority of the title insurance companies, forged her aunt's signature on various documents, and failed to pay the liabilities associated with the collateral as required by the lenders.
For the 2004 tax year, Gerideau-Williams, who took taxation classes at Georgetown University School of Law toward an advanced degree in tax law, filed tax returns that drastically understated her income because she failed to include the more than millions dollars earned in the course of her fraud schemes. For the 2005 and 2006 tax years, she did not file her income tax returns.
Judge Lancaster scheduled sentencing for June 7, 2013. The law provides for a total sentence of 235 years in prison, a fine of $3,700,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Brendan T. Conway is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Mortgage Fraud Task Force conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Gerideau-Williams. 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 Investigations; 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.