SANTA ANA, California – An Orange County man who allegedly bilked distressed homeowners with false promises that he could help them avoid foreclosure by obtaining modifications to their mortgages – or even completely eliminating their loans – was arrested this morning on federal fraud charges by Special Agents with the FBI.
Antonio Marquette, 56, was arrested without incident at his residence in the community of Midway City. Marquette is expected to be arraigned on a 12-count indictment this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.
According to the 12-count indictment, which was returned on Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana and was unsealed upon this morning’s arrest, Marquette operated Bolsa Marketing Group in Garden Grove in 2010 and 2011 and allegedly charged homeowners up to $70,000 in cash for services that simply were not rendered.
Through Bolsa Marketing, Marquette allegedly ran a scheme that targeted distressed homeowners and induced them to pay up-front fees to obtain mortgage relief services. The indictment alleges that Marquette operated the scheme by “falsely promising homeowners mortgage loan modifications that would substantially reduce their mortgage payments, avoid foreclosure, or eliminate their mortgage loans entirely.”
As part of the scheme, Marquette allegedly made various promises to homeowners, including making guarantees that he could reduce their outstanding debt to 25 percent of the loan balance in only four months. Marquette also sent fraudulent checks to “pay off” mortgages and filed bogus documents county recorders offices, according to the indictment.
“Mr. Marquette is charged with preying on vulnerable homeowners who seemingly would do anything to avoid foreclosure,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “While Marquette took steps to make it appear he working on behalf of homeowners, he in fact did nothing to help them, and many victims lost their homes.”
The indictment alleges that Marquette took in more than $1.2 million from victim-homeowners, most of whom were members of Vietnamese communities in Southern California, the Bay Area and Houston. However, investigators believe there may be additional victims who have not yet been identified. Members of the public who have information about Marquette’s scheme or believe they may be a victim of the scheme are encouraged to call the FBI’s Los Angeles Field office at (310) 477-6565.
The indictment charges Marquette with 10 counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. These charges each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The case against Marquette is the product of an ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.