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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 20, 2014

Albuquerque Woman Sentenced to Prison for Federal Wire Fraud and Identity Theft Conviction

ALBUQUERQUE – Lesa Howard, 52, of Albuquerque, N.M., was sentenced today for her conviction on federal wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges.  Howard will serve a prison sentence of 54 months to be followed by five years of supervised release.  She also was ordered to pay $192,953.70 in restitution to Bank of America, the victim of her crimes.

Howard was arrested on Aug. 7, 2013, on a seven-count indictment charging her with two counts of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of bank fraud.  The indictment alleged that Howard committed these crimes in Bernalillo and Valencia Counties between July 2007 and July 2009. 

According to the indictment, in July 2007, Howard unlawfully orchestrated the straw purchase of a house in Los Lunas, N.M., which she occupied for several years.  When the mortgage holder began to foreclose on the straw purchaser in Aug. 2008, Howard unlawfully orchestrated the sale of the house to a second straw purchaser, who was living in the house with her, and unlawfully pocketed proceeds due to the original straw purchaser.

Howard pled guilty on May 13, 2014, to Counts 1 and 4 of the indictment charging her with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, respectively.  In her plea agreement, Howard admitted executing a scheme in Aug. 2008, to fraudulently induce a mortgage company to extend a $417,000 home loan for the purchase of a house in Los Lunas.  She further admitted using the personal identifiers of another person, without authorization, to obtain the loan.  Howard falsely represented that the homeowner had agreed to the sale of the house even though the homeowner had not agreed to the transaction.  Although Howard represented that she would deliver the proceeds of the transaction to the homeowner, Howard arranged for $96,471 in proceeds to be wired into a bank account she controlled.

This case was investigated by Albuquerque office of Homeland Security Investigations and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Pena. 

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Updated January 26, 2015