Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Henry Gutierrez, Postal Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; and J. Thomas Cardwell, Commissioner, State of Florida Office of Financial Regulation, have announced that defendant John Fisher of Jupiter, Fla., has plead guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and to one count of substantive mail fraud.
Also pleading guilty were defendants Tracey Balli of Pembroke Pines, Fla., Justina Bryan of Hollywood, Fla., and Delano McLennon of North Lauderdale, Fla. These defendants pled guilty to one count of making false statements on a HUD-1 Real Estate Settlement Form in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme. Sentencing has been scheduled for Nov. 19, 2010 before U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro.
According to records filed with the court and statements made during the plea hearing, the defendants and other conspirators engaged in a scheme to enrich themselves by fraudulently causing real property in Fort Lauderdale, Jupiter, Cape Coral and Royal Palm Beach, Fla., to be bought and sold through straw buyers who obtained high value mortgages based upon fraudulent mortgage loan applications. A co-conspirator orchestrated the scheme, in which defendant Fisher, a licensed mortgage broker, Balli and Bryan, both loan processors, joined. Balli and Bryan, along with other conspirators, recruited straw buyers, including McLennon, to join the scheme.
In order to obtain mortgages on these properties, the defendants and other co-conspirators submitted and caused to be submitted fraudulent documents to various mortgage lenders across the United States. Based on these false documents, the mortgage lenders issued approximately $2.5 million in loans to the defendants and their co-conspirators.
“South Florida continues to be a hot spot for mortgage fraud,” said Special Agent in Charge John V. Gillies of the FBI Miami Division. “It affects all of us, making homes artificially overpriced and then eventually losing value through neglect. The housing industry is a key component of our economy and combating mortgage fraud will remain a top priority for the FBI.”
Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the FBI, and the State of Florida Office of Financial Regulation. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Randy D. Katz and Jeffrey H. Kay.
For more information, visit http://miami.fbi.gov.