News and Press Releases

Defendants Falsified Loan Applications on Houses used for Marijuana Production

July 6, 2009

JET CITY MORTGAGE, LLC and one of its owners and operators, HA-DUYEN THI LE, a/k/a Holly Le, were sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle for 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. Judge James L. Robart sentenced LE to six months in prison, eighty hours of community service and two years of supervised release. The corporation, JET CITY MORTGAGE, was fined $307,149. While the corporation has been dissolved, the government intends to seek to enforce the fine against LE’s husband, who was a corporate officer, and any other legal successors to the corporation’s assets.

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 admitted 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.

In asking that his client avoid jail time, Defense Attorney Robert Leen claimed that LE only wanted to assist her fellow Vietnamese immigrants with attaining the “American dream of home ownership.” But Judge James L. Robart disagreed, saying “Sharing the American dream really meant pocketing a lot of money.” Judge Robart noted that immigrant families who were placed in homes they couldn’t afford will suffer consequences into the future, with a damaged credit history that follows them for years. “She was a predator to her own community,” the judge said.

Weeping openly as she spoke to the court, LE begged to avoid a jail sentence so she could stay with her small children ages three and six. Judge Robart said she would need to do jail time to pay for her crime. “I have no doubt the defendant loves her children... but she didn’t think much about them when she was accepting the money that was flowing into Jet City,” the judge said.

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.

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