Guyanese National Convicted of Mortgage Fraud
A Guyanese national was convicted following a federal jury trial on charges stemming from his leadership and participation in an extensive mortgage fraud scheme.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
Ravindranauth “Ravi” Roopnarine, 56, of Guyana, was charged by indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349; mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341; and wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343. On Friday, March 11, 2016, a twelve-person jury convicted Roopnarine on all three counts, after a four day trial presided over by United States District Judge Jose E. Martinez.
According to publicly filed documents and statements made in court, on December 9, 2010, a Fort Pierce federal grand jury indicted Roopnarine, Gergawattie “Kamla” Seecharan, Bhaardwaj “Deo” Seecharan and Linda Rovetto for their participation in a mortgage fraud scheme. Kamla Seecharan, Deo Seecharan and Rovetto previously pled guilty and were sentenced. Roopnarine in mid-2015 waived extradition and returned from Trinidad and Tobago to the Southern District of Florida.
According to the court documents, Roopnarine recruited and led his co-conspirators in a widespread mortgage fraud scheme involving more than 150 residential real estate properties in Indian River, Miami-Dade, and Orlando-Orange Counties. Roopnarine, along with Kamla Seecharan and her husband Deo Seecharan, conspired to solicit mainly Guyanese residents of Florida and other States to act as straw buyers on fraudulent mortgage loan applications. Approximately 80 individuals served as straw buyers of properties in Vero Lake Estates (VLE), in Indian River County, and other developments. This scheme resulted in the issuance of more than $50 million in fraudulent mortgage loans. The co-conspirators then used the proceeds to purchase additional properties, fund pre-existing fraudulent mortgage loans, and pay kickbacks to the straw buyers. In addition, Kamla Seecharan and Rovetto unlawfully diverted more than $3.5 million in mortgage loans from real estate closing escrow accounts to Raviworld New Homes, Inc., a company managed by Roopnarine and Deo Seecharan.
Kamla Seecharan pled guilty to participating in a conspiracy involving more than $50 million dollars in fraudulent mortgage loan funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341, 1343 and 1349. Deo Seecharan and Rovetto each pled guilty to participating in a conspiracy to commit bank fraud involving $3.5 million dollars in diverted real estate escrow funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1349 and 1344.
U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez sentenced Kamla Seecharan and Deo Seecharan, to 121 months and 60 months, respectively, in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release. In addition, Kamla Seecharan and Deo Seecharan were ordered to pay restitution, in the amount of $2,040,343.14 and $9,041,133.46, respectively. U.S. District Judge Martinez sentenced Rovetto to 42 months in prison.
Judge Martinez has set a sentencing hearing for Roopnarine on May 10, 2016, at 1:30 p.m. in the Fort Pierce U.S. Courthouse. Roopnarine faces a statutory maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison and/or a $1,000,000 fine.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. Mr. Ferrer also thanked the State of Florida Office of Financial Regulation, Bureau of Finance, West Palm Beach Regional Office for their work on this investigation, and the United States Marshals Service for their assistance with the extradition and return of Roopnarine to Florida from Trinidad & Tobago. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Theodore Cooperstein and James V. Hayes.