Skip to main content
Press Release

Former Realtor Sentenced to 5 Years for Leading Decade-Long Mortgage Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona

2015-049_Reyes et al           PHOENIX – Yesterday, Julio Cesar Esquivel Reyes, 41, of Tolleson, Ariz. was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver to five years in prison and ordered to pay $568,413 in restitution. Reyes previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

            “Mortgage fraud is a serious offense that has detrimental effects on the economy as a whole.  The facts of this case are especially egregious because the defendants used their affiliation with a church to further the crime,” said U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo. “This sentence and that of Pastor Tovar send a solid message that those engaging in such actions will be prosecuted and incarcerated.”

            “Schemes like this that undermine our financial system and lead to millions of dollars in losses impact consumers at all levels,” said Matt Allen, special agent in charge for HSI Arizona. “That’s why HSI will continue to work with its enforcement partners to ensure that those who engage in high-dollar fraud schemes pay a price to pay for their crimes.”

            Reyes, a former realtor, and his co-conspirators embarked on an 11-year mortgage fraud scheme that resulted in losses just under $2 million.  Among other things, the defendants provided false information to lenders and used straw buyers to perpetrate the scheme.  During the course of the conspiracy, the defendants obtained at least 14 loans on 11 properties that totaled over $3 million and resulted in nine foreclosures.  A portion of the scheme was co-led by Pastor Luis Antonio (“Tony”) Maldonado Tovar of Grupo Amistad church.  By misrepresenting that the proceeds would be used to benefit the church, Tovar and Reyes recruited members and affiliates of Grupo Amistad church in Phoenix to act as straw buyers for a number of the fraudulent transactions.  Tovar was previously sentenced to 33 months imprisonment for his role in the offense.  He was ordered to self-surrender to serve his sentence on Jan. 20, 2015, but failed to appear and remains at large - any information on Tovar’s whereabouts should be reported to the U. S. Marshals Service at 1-800-336-0102 or  Picture attached.

             Also sentenced in this case were Evangelina Gardner (14 months’ imprisonment) and Reyes’s father, Andres Esquivel (12 months’ imprisonment).

             The investigation in this case was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Jennifer Levinson, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.


CASE NUMBER:           CR-12-01122                

RELEASE NUMBER:   2015-049_Reyes et al


# # #


For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit

Follow the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, on Twitter @USAO_AZ for the latest news.

Updated June 23, 2015

Press Release Number: CR-12-01122