Man Who Took $875,000 From Distressed Homeowners in Bogus Loan Modification Scheme Sentenced to Nearly Five Years in Prison
SANTA ANA, California – An Orange County man who deceived 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 sentenced today to 57 months in federal prison.
Antonio Marquette, who went by "Alan Le" and "Anthony Le," 56, of Midway City, was sentenced and ordered to repay $875,000 to victims by United States District Judge Andrew J. Guilford.
Marquette was found guilty in September of nine counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of money laundering. After the federal jury returned its verdicts, Judge Guilford remanded Marquette into custody.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Marquette operated Bolsa Marketing Group in Garden Grove in 2010 and 2011 and charged homeowners up to $100,000 in cash for services that the homeowners did not receive. Through Bolsa Marketing, Marquette ran a scheme that targeted distressed homeowners – most of whom were members of Vietnamese communities in Southern California, the Bay Area and Houston – and induced them to pay large up-front fees to obtain mortgage relief services.
"This defendant preyed upon vulnerable homeowners desperately trying to avoid foreclosure of their homes," said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. "He used false promises to extract significant fees from his victims, but he provided nothing in return."
The evidence showed 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." The government contended at sentencing that Marquette took in more than $1.5 million from victim-homeowners.
As part of the scheme, Marquette 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 with county recorders’ offices, according to court documents.
"Vulnerable homeowners are targeted by affinity schemes such as the one operated by Mr. Marquette, who made false promises via radio advertisements, a tactic which tends to add a veneer of legitimacy to any scheme," said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. "As I've stated previously, homeowners are encouraged to thoroughly research solicitations, including those advertised through the media, before placing their trust and their money with anyone in advance of receiving services."
The case against Marquette was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Greg Staples of the Santa Ana Branch Office.