MORTGAGE COMPANY AND OWNER PLEAD GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT WIRE FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING
Defendants Falsified Loan Applications on Houses used for Marijuana Production
JET CITY MORTGAGE, LLC and one of its owners and operators, HA-DUYEN THI LE, a/k/a Holly Le, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and Money Laundering in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme. The company was first identified by law enforcement as part of “Operation Green Reaper,” an investigation into large scale marijuana growing conspiracies in south King County. Financial investigation by Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation revealed the company had fraudulently obtained mortgage loans on many of the homes where marijuana grows were established. When sentenced by U.S. District Judge James L. Robart on July 6, 2009, LE faces up to 20 years in prison, fines of up to twice the amount of funds laundered or $250,000, and three years of supervised release. JET CITY MORTGAGE faces fines of up to twice the amount of funds laundered or $250,000 and a probationary period of up to three years.
According to the charging information and plea agreements, in 2005 and 2006, LE and her husband operated JET CITY MORTGAGE, LLC. LE’s husband was a licensed mortgage broker and a licensed real estate agent. From the business’s office in Kent, Washington, LE conspired with others to falsify loan documents, allowing dozens of unqualified buyers to obtain mortgages and purchase one or more homes. When law enforcement began investigating garden supply stores that were providing equipment and advice to marijuana manufacturing rings, they discovered that many of the homes where marijuana grows were discovered were purchased using the services of Jet City Mortgage.
In their plea agreements, JET CITY MORTGAGE, LLC and LE admit they falsified income and asset information, as well as documents purporting to verify that information, for borrowers seeking mortgages. LE conspired with the owners of three small businesses to provide false information to lenders who were attempting to verify the information in loan documents. These co-conspirators were paid a small fee each time they lied to the mortgage lenders. JET CITY MORTGAGE collected fees and premiums both in the role of a mortgage broker and through LE’s husband’s work as a realtor. Financial records reveal JET CITY MORTGAGE earned more than $230,000 from the scheme.
Many of the homes purchased through this scheme have now been foreclosed by the victim lenders. As part of the plea agreements, JET CITY MORTGAGE will not attempt to keep the real estate and mortgage broker licenses which are being revoked by the State of Washington.
This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The financial investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). The drug case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the South Snohomish County Narcotics Task Force (SSCNTF includes officers from Lynnwood Police, Edmonds Police, and Mountlake Terrace Police.), the Valley Narcotics Enforcement Task Force (VNET includes officers from the Kent, Renton, Auburn, and Tukwila Police Departments), the Seattle Police Department, Washington State Patrol, Port of Seattle Police, and King County Sheriff’s Office.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sarah Vogel.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.