LOUISIANA MORTGAGE LENDER PAYS U.S. $735,000 TO SETTLE FALSE CLAIMS ACTION BROUGHT BY DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A Louisiana mortgage lender has paid the United States $735,000 to settle claims it defrauded the Federal Housing Administration by falsely certifying that 15 home buyers seeking FHA- insured loans had made down payments when in fact they had not. The Department said in a lawsuit that the lender, Troy & Nichols Inc. of Monroe, produced the false certifications for the sellers of the homes, real estate developers Samuel Milton and Leon Ghetti, and certified that Milton and Ghetti qualified for FHA mortgages when they did not. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, relying on the false information, insured the properties which went into default and foreclosure. Assistant Attorney General Frank W. Hunger, in charge of the Civil Division, said the agreement settles the suit the Department filed against Troy & Nichols on behalf of HUD. The suit alleged that the actions of the company and other defendants violated the False Claims Act. According to the suit, Patricia Brister-Strain, the branch manager of Troy & Nichols' Jackson, Mississippi, office, helped Milton and Ghetti defraud the FHA by enabling buyers to obtain FHA-insured loans by claiming falsely that the buyers made down payments when in fact they did not. The Department also said that Troy & Nichols falsely certified that Milton and Ghetti qualified for FHA mortgage insurance when they did not. Today's settlement is the fourth the Department has obtained in its actions in this matter. The Department previously obtained settlements totalling $885,000 with a title insurance company, two attorneys and a bogus buyer. Claims against Brister-Strain, Milton and Ghetti and four other bogus buyers, Jerry Moore Greer, Sammy Donn Owens, Jerry Brocato and Michael Milton, are pending. All were named as defendants in a suit filed by the government.