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Florida mortgage broker avoids jail time

In a mortgage fraud case closely watched by many Floridians, a former mortgage broker has defied expectations and received an assurance that she will not get jail time. She joins 10 others in the case, including four other real estate professionals, who also avoided jail time. This has surprised many, due to the defendants' key roles in one of the biggest instances of mortgage fraud to ever occur in Florida.

Accusations against the defendants centered on claims that they had used bogus property flips to artificially inflate the values of various real estate properties. They were also accused of having lied on loan applications. The alleged goal was to obtain more money from lenders than they would have with accurate information. All told, the case involved over $200 million in loans. That amount was secured across 150 real estate deals that occurred across an 11-year period. A total of 70 associates participated in the transactions.

The broker at the center of the recent court decision had pleaded guilty to a fraudulent loan processing charge. The loan was for $1.79 million and was obtained using false information about the income of the borrower. The broker admitted knowing at the time that the information used was false. She also admitted that she had passed the information to another bank, securing another loan of $350,000. She acknowledged that the actions reflected poor judgment, which she attributed to stress.

Prosecutors say that the broker gave them valuable information about others in the case. They considered the information to be instrumental, and one of the prosecutors even testified on her behalf.

Mortgage fraud is a serious offense, but every defendant deserves a fair trial. Experienced criminal defense attorneys know how to protect their clients' rights while presenting solid defenses to the charges.

Herald-Tribune, "No jail time for Sarasota mortgage broker in flipping case" Michael Braga, Nov. 20, 2013

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