Attorney Sentenced to Prison for Wire Fraud and Money Laundering in a Multi-Million Dollar Mortgage Fraud Scheme
|July 22, 2011|
HOUSTON – Vincent Wallace Aldridge, a former fee attorney for First Southwestern Title Company, has been sentenced to 63 months imprisonment for wire fraud and money laundering arising from a scheme to defraud residential mortgage lenders of more than $3.7 million in loans in connection with home purchases in the Houston area, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today, along with FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Rodney E. Clark.
Aldridge, 46, of Fresno, Texas, was found guilty by a jury at the end of January along with his wife Tori Aldridge, a former employee of First Southwestern Title Company, of 19 counts which included conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering charges. Gilbert Isgar, a co-owner of Waterford Homes, was found guilty of 13 counts which included conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
United States District Judge Sim Lake sentenced Aldridge this afternoon to the 63-month term which is to be followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $891,000 in restitution and a special assessment of $1900. On June 29, 2011, Isgar was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution. Tori Aldridge’s sentencing is set for Nov. 19, 2011 before Judge Lake.
Both of the Aldridges and Isgar were convicted of conspiring to devise a scheme which they executed during 2004 and 2005 to receive proceeds from real estate transactions based upon materially fraudulent information that was intentionally supplied to at least four lending institutions as the basis for an agreement between the lending institutions and borrowers. Vincent Aldridge lured borrowers by representing the scheme as an investment opportunity. For the use of their credit to obtain mortgage loans, the borrowers were promised $10,000 after the closing of their respective property and that the property would be sold after a year for a profit. Once a borrower agreed to the deal, Vincent Aldridge and Tori Aldridge - acting as both an escrow officer and as a loan processor - met with the borrower to obtain the necessary personal identifying information to complete the borrower’s lending package. Prior to the Aldridges submitting the lending packages to the lending institutions, they modified the lending package to enhance the borrower’s ability to qualify for the requested loan. These enhancements included fraudulently overstating the borrower’s income, misrepresenting the borrower’s principal residence as rental property and misrepresenting the purchase property as the principal residence. The mortgage loans totaled approximately $3,700,000. Each property sold in amounts between $344,000 and $360,000 and were funded to First Southwestern Title Company by wire.
As a part of the scheme, Isgar, co-owner of Waterford Custom Homes, inflated the sales price of the properties to be purchased by the aforementioned recruited borrowers. As a part of the agreement between the Aldridges and Isgar, disbursement authorizations for attorney’s fees and additional contractor fees on brand new homes for amounts of $60,000 to more than $80,000 were signed by Isgar. These documents were provided to First Southwestern Title, which was controlled by the Aldridges. These disbursement authorizations were not provided to the lender and were not listed on the HUD settlement statement. The disbursements for additional attorney’s fees were in addition to the attorney’s fees stated on the attorney fee line in HUD settlement statement.
Once the loans were funded to the title company, the Aldridges caused several checks to be drawn on the account of the title company, each totaling amounts of $60,000 to more than $80,000, to Aldridge & Associates IOLTA bank account. The checks totaled approximately $442,089 and represented a portion of the illicit proceeds obtained through the mortgage fraud scheme. On one occasion, Isgar wired approximately $81,000 back to Vincent Aldridge’s account after he received the funds from the closing. The total amount of the money laundering was more than $500,000.
Both Vincent Aldridge and Gilbert Barry Isgar were allowed to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to the Bureau of Prisons. Tori Aldridge remains on bond conditions until her sentencing.
The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the FBI and IRS-CI. Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer Lowery and Andrew Leuchtman are prosecuting the case.