Florida Politician Embroiled in Mortgage Fraud Allegations
A Florida government official is currently facing federal charges for allegations of mortgage fraud, stemming from activity allegedly occurring over a three-year period. According to the website www.loansafe.org, the North Miami mayor, in addition to three other individuals, was recently indicted in federal court on a total of 14 fraud-related charges.
Prosecutors report that the alleged scam occurred in this way:
- Two of the suspects prepared loan documents for straw buyers, containing false information about the financial status of the proposed purchaser. Once the loans were approved, funds were wired to a title agency, owned by one of the suspects, for distribution.
- The suspects also reportedly submitted duplicate HUD-1 forms to the bank to inflate the purchase prices. They also allegedly falsely represented their receipt of down payments and closing costs from the straw buyers.
- Distributed funds were allegedly split between the four suspects, in addition to payment of the straw buyers
- The indictment also alleges that the mayor owned a company that received a percentage of the fraudulently secured mortgage company funds. Some monthly mortgage payments were made from the account. However, the majority of the properties were reportedly foreclosed upon.
- The indictment also alleges that the mayor used some of the deposited funds for her personal benefit.
The indictment reportedly includes eight violations for each defendant on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud, under Title 18, United States Code, Sec. 1349. This statute prohibits any act of conspiracy with the intent to commit a legal act. The indictment also included six counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sec. 1343. The law makes defrauding a financial institution illegal. According to the article, the alleged scam resulted in a loss of $8 million for banks and the foreclosure of 20 residential properties.
Mortgage Fraud Conviction Consequences
A mortgage fraud conviction can result in serious penalties, especially since these charges are generally prosecuted in federal courts. The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act establishes that a mortgage fraud conviction can carry a maximum of 30 years incarceration and a $1 million fine, depending on the circumstances of the case. The defendants in this case are facing the 30-year maximum. If convicted, it is likely that they will also have to make financial restitution to the victims. According to the report on www.loansafe.org, the mayor was suspended from public office by Florida Governor Rick Scott directly following her appearance in federal court.
As exemplified with this case, even allegations of mortgage fraud can have devastating financial, personal and professional consequences. These suspects are innocent until proven guilty, yet they are forced to experience public ridicule in the media and loss of employment income. In addition, the prosecution of these cases in federal court can be prove extremely challenging for the defendant. It is vital to secure the representation of an experienced lawyer.
If you have been charged with a fraud offense in Florida, contact Miami based Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today at 305-600-3519 for a confidential and free consultation.