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August 14, 2009

FORMER HOUSTON RESIDENT PLEADS GUILTY IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY MORTGAGE FRAUD SCHEME

(HOUSTON) – Grant William Gondrezick, 45, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. Gondrezick pleaded guilty this morning before U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon. Sentencing is set for Dec. 4, 2009, when he faces up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to $1.9 million in restitution. Gondrezick will remain on bond pending his sentencing. Gondrezick is a current resident of Benton Harbor, Mich., and formerly of Houston.

According to the factual basis in Gondrezick’s plea agreement, Gondrezick engaged in a mortgage fraud scheme between November 2004 and May 2005 that involved the sale of 24 homes, most of which were in Montgomery County. Gondrezick recruited straw buyers who entered sales contracts for homes which stated that substantial amounts (typically between $80,000 and$100,000) were going to be taken out of the seller’s proceeds at closing and sent to one of Gondrezick’s contracting companies for home improvements. These amounts were added to the asking price of the homes though neither the seller nor the nominee buyer asked for the improvements or hired Gondrezick’s company. Gondrezick submitted invoices to the title companies in these amounts to justify the third-party disbursements, claiming that custom renovations or home theater work had been performed. In fact, no such work was performed. Because the nominee buyers never planned to live in the homes, the buyer never complained about the lack of renovations which had been paid out of the closing. Gondrezick received approximately $1.9 million in these disbursements out of the loan proceeds which totaled approximately $10 million. 
           
Gondrezick further admitted that the straw buyers were paid to participate in this scheme and that the loan applications contained false information relating to the buyers income, employment, assets and intent to occupy the homes. 

Co-defendants Tiffany Brooks, who worked as a loan processor, Dirk Minnifield, a realtor, and Marc Jason Williams, who worked with Brooks as a loan processor, are also charged for their alleged involvement in this scheme and are scheduled for a Feb. 1, 2010, trial. They are presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gregg Costa.

 

 

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