East Bay Real Estate Agent Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud And Money Laundering In Connection With Scheme To Defraud Homeowners And Mortgage Holders
Defendant Admits to Orchestrating Sham Lawsuits to Create the Appearance that Mortgages Were Invalidated
SAN FRANCISCO – Robert Jacobsen pleaded guilty today to wire fraud and money laundering charges in connection with a scheme to use sham companies and collusive lawsuits to create the appearance that mortgage liens had been invalidated, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Batdorf. The plea was accepted by the Honorable Maxine M. Chesney, U.S. District Judge.
According to the plea agreement, Jacobsen, 69, formerly of Lafayette, Calif., admitted that from October 2012 through October 2013, he executed a scheme to sell homes to buyers who were duped into believing that the homes had clear title. Jacobsen admitted that he identified homes with mortgage deeds of trust that were recorded for the benefit of an entity called “American Brokers Conduit” (ABC). Jacobsen also admitted that he registered a separate entity in New York called “American Brokers Conduit Corporation” (ABC Corp.). Jacobsen then hired an attorney to file lawsuits against his phony ABC Corp., claiming that mortgages that had been originated by the real ABC were invalid. Controlling both sides of the lawsuits, Jacobsen caused the attorneys to enter into stipulated judgments, agreeing that the mortgage deeds of trust were invalid. The courts then entered judgment based on these fraudulent agreements, which Jacobsen recorded with county recorder’s offices. The result created the impression that the deeds of trust had been legitimately invalidated by federal or state courts.
Jacobsen admitted that two homes that were the subjects of such lawsuits were in Danville, Calif., and San Francisco, Calif. Jacobsen admitted that, after obtaining fraudulent judgments, he sold the Danville home for $540,000 and the San Francisco home for $1.2 million. Jacobsen admitted that in both cases, his representations regarding the fraudulent court judgments had a natural tendency to influence the buyers to purchase the homes.
As part of his plea agreement, Jacobsen further admitted that proceeds from the sale of the Danville and San Francisco homes were used to pay for a 54’ Hylas sailboat that the government seized at a marina in Beaufort, North Carolina on November 18, 2015. Jacobsen agreed that his interest in this sailboat was subject to forfeiture.
On December 5, 2015, a federal grand jury indicted Jacobsen charging him with 13 counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343 and 9 counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity (money laundering), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957. Pursuant to today’s plea agreement, Jacobsen pleaded guilty to one count of each crime.
Jacobsen’s sentencing is scheduled for November 15, 2017. Jacobsen faces a maximum sentence of 20 years of imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution, for the wire fraud count and a maximum sentence of 10 years of imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000, for the money laundering count. However, any sentence following conviction will be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Assistant United States Attorneys Benjamin Kingsley, Meredith Osborn, and Gregg Lowder are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Beth Margen and Bridget Kilkenny. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI and IRS-CI.