A 38-year-old woman who ran a pair of mortgage title and loan processing companies in Boca Raton pleaded guilty to five counts related to what prosecutors said was a scheme to sell properties in Florida to straw buyers and collect more than the cost of the homes from the lender than was needed. The defendant could be sentenced to up to 140 years in prison, though given her guilty plea, it is possible that she has reached a plea bargain with the federal prosecutors pursuing the case.
According to news reports, the defendant was accused of filling out HUD-1 settlement statements with home values that were higher than the properties' actual worth. In other cases, buyers were recorded in the statements making down payments at closing that were not made. The amount of money the defendant is supposed to have taken through this scheme is not clear, but another defendant convicted in the case has been ordered to pay $1.8 million in restitution.
Authorities say that man, who operated Best Decisions Home Mortgage Inc., worked with an employee to recruit straw buyers, who agreed to have names listed as buyers in exchange for money. Those men have been sentenced to 63 months and 33 months in prison, respectively. Two other men, who were said to be the straw buyers, have pleaded guilty and sentenced to prison in one case and probation in the other.
The female defendant pleaded guilty to four counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. She is scheduled to be sentenced June 15.
Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "Boca title company chief guilty of fraud in housing scam," Kimberly Miller, April 4, 2012