Delton de Armas, former chief financial officer of Taylor Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corporation (TBW), has pled guilty to making false statements and conspiring to commit bank and wire fraud for his role in a more than $2.9 billion fraud scheme that contributed to the failures of TBW and Colonial Bank. De Armas of Carrollton, Texas, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema in the Eastern District of Virginia, and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced on June 15, 2012.
“As TBW’s chief financial officer, Mr. de Armas concealed a massive $1.5 billion deficit in TBW’s funding facility and another large deficit on TBW’s books,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division. “He tried to conceal the gaping holes by falsifying financial statements and lying to investors as well as the government. Ultimately, Mr. de Armas’ criminal conduct, along with that of his co-conspirators, contributed to the collapse of TBW and Colonial Bank. With today’s guilty plea, Mr. de Armas joins seven other defendants—including the former chairman of TBW, Lee Farkas—who have been convicted of participating in this massive fraudulent scheme.”
According to court documents, de Armas joined TBW in 2000 as its CFO and reported directly to its chairman, Lee Farkas, and later to its Chief Executive Officer Paul Allen. He admitted in court that from 2005-August 2009, he and other co-conspirators engaged in a scheme to defraud financial institutions that had invested in a wholly-owned lending facility called Ocala Funding. Ocala Funding obtained funds for mortgage lending for TBW from the sale of asset-backed commercial paper to financial institutions, including Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas. The facility was managed by TBW and had no employees of its own.
According to court records, shortly after Ocala Funding was established, de Armas learned there were inadequate assets backing its commercial paper, a deficiency referred to internally at TBW as a “hole” in Ocala Funding. De Armas knew that the hole grew over time to more than $700 million. He learned from the CEO that the hole was more than $1.5 billion at the time of TBW’s collapse. De Armas admitted he was aware that, in an effort to cover up the hole and mislead investors, a subordinate who reported to him had falsified Ocala Funding collateral reports and periodically sent the falsified reports to financial institution investors in Ocala Funding and to other third parties. De Armas acknowledged that he and the chief executive officer also deceived investors by providing them with a false explanation for the hole in Ocala Funding.
De Armas also admitted in court that he directed a subordinate to inflate an account receivable balance for loan participations in TBW’s financial statements. De Armas acknowledged that he knew that the falsified financial statements were subsequently provided to Ginnie Mae and Freddie Mac for their determination on the renewal of TBW’s authority to sell and service securities issued by them.
In addition, de Armas admitted in court to aiding and abetting false statements in a letter the CEO sent to the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), through Ginnie Mae, regarding TBW’s audited financial statements for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2009. De Armas reviewed and edited the letter, knowing it contained material omissions. The letter omitted that the delay in submitting the financial data was caused by concerns its independent auditor had raised about the financing relationship between TBW and Colonial Bank and its request that TBW retain a law firm to conduct an internal investigation. Instead, the letter falsely attributed the delay to a new acquisition and TBW’s switch to a compressed 11-month fiscal year.
“With our nation in a housing crisis, de Armas, as chief financial officer of TBW, one of the country’s largest mortgage lenders, papered over a gaping hole in the balance sheet of TBW subsidiary Ocala Funding and lied to regulators and investors to cover it up,” said Christy Romero, Deputy Special Inspector General, Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP). “The fraud provided cover to others at TBW to misappropriate more than $1 billion in Ocala funds and sell fraudulent, worthless securities to conspirators at Colonial BancGroup. SIGTARP and its law enforcement partners stopped $553 million in TARP funds from being lost to this fraud and brought accountability and justice that the American taxpayers deserve.”
Last year, a jury in the Eastern District of Virginia found Lee Farkas, the chairman of TBW, guilty of 14 counts of conspiracy, bank, securities, and wire fraud. On June 30, 2011, Judge Brinkema sentenced Farkas to 30 years in prison. In addition, six individuals have pleaded guilty for their roles in the fraud scheme, including: Paul Allen, former chief executive officer of TBW, who was sentenced to 40 months in prison; Raymond Bowman, former president of TBW, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison; Desiree Brown, former treasurer of TBW, who was sentenced to six years in prison; Catherine Kissick, former senior vice president of Colonial Bank and head of its Mortgage Warehouse Lending Division (MWLD), who was sentenced to eight years in prison; Teresa Kelly, former operations supervisor for Colonial Bank’s MWLD, who was sentenced to three months in prison; and Sean Ragland, a former senior financial analyst at TBW, who was sentenced to three months in prison.