Guilty Plea In Bakersfield Mortgage Fraud Scheme
FRESNO, Calif. — Antonio Perez Marcial, 41, of Bakersfield, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud, in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme in Bakersfield, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to Perez-Marcial’s guilty plea, he conspired with his co-defendants from 2007 to 2010 to use straw buyers to purchase residential properties in Bakersfield developed by Jara Brothers Investments (JBI), owned by co-defendants Eliseo Jara and Sergio Jara, and Pershing Partners LLC, owned by co-defendant Lucia Chavez. The conspirators paid straw buyers to purchase the properties from JBI and Pershing Partners, and funded the purchases using loans they obtained for the straw buyers from lenders based on false and fraudulent loan applications. The loan applications the conspirators submitted to lenders frequently contained false statements concerning the straw buyers’ employment status, income, assets, intent to occupy the properties as their personal residences, and source of down payments for the purchase of the properties. The conspirators concealed from the lenders that the property developers funded certain of the straw buyers’ down payments. The conspirators also submitted false supporting documentation to lenders such as false and altered bank account statements purporting to show that the straw buyer had a high bank account balance, false verifications of the straw buyers’ bank account funds, false verifications of rent purporting to be from the straw buyer’s landlord, false pay stubs, and false verifications of employment. Perez-Marcial at times received from other conspirators a “consulting fee” ranging from $20,000 to $30,000 or more when a property was sold to a straw buyer, to compensate Perez-Marcial for having obtained the straw buyer and to fund the straw buyer’s payment. Perez-Marcial admitted he caused lenders approximately $3,455,250 in losses due to his role in the conspiracy.
“Mortgage fraud saps the strength of our banking system and has victimized communities across our nation,” said Jose M. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in Oakland. “Today’s plea represents one of the many results of the ongoing and focused efforts of the IRS and our law enforcement partners to identify and hold criminals who tried to game our financial system accountable for their actions.”
This case is the product of a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kirk E. Sherriff and Henry Z. Carbajal III are prosecuting the case.
Perez-Marcial is scheduled to be sentenced on June 2, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. by Senior United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii. The maximum sentence for the conspiracy charge is 30 years in prison. The actual sentence will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
Co-defendant Ricardo Salinas pleaded guilty to bank fraud in 2013, and his sentencing is set for July 28, 2014. The remaining six defendants have pleaded not guilty, the charges as to them are only allegations, and they are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This law enforcement action is part of the work being done by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. One component of the FFETF is the national Mortgage Fraud Working Group, co-chaired by U.S. Attorney Wagner. For more information on the task force, visit StopFraud.gov.