An Ocean County, N.J. man who allegedly used his position as a loan officer of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage to get the company to release more than $4.6 million in fraudulent mortgage loan applications was sentenced to 24 months in prison for his role in a $40.8 million mortgage fraud conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Robert Serao of Bayville, N.J. previously pleaded guilty following his indictment to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He was the 10th defendant to plead guilty in the case. U.S. District Judge Joseph E. Irenas imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
While working in various positions—including branch manager, sales manager and loan officer —within Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, a division of Wells Fargo Bank NA, Serao entered into a conspiracy to submit mortgage loans to his employer for financially unqualified “straw buyers” based upon false and fraudulent information contained in Uniform Residential Loan Applications, HUD-1 Forms, tax returns and other documents.
Serao’s conspirators caused fraudulent mortgage loan applications and supporting documents to be submitted to Wells Fargo and numerous other mortgage lenders in various straw buyers’ names, attributing to them inflated income and assets in order to induce the mortgage lenders to approve the loans. Once the loans were approved and the mortgage lenders sent the loan proceeds in connection with the real estate closings on the properties, Serao’s conspirators took a portion of the proceeds from the fraudulent mortgage loans. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage released more than $4.6 million based on fraudulent mortgage loan applications. Serao profited from his role in the conspiracy by increased commissions on the mortgage funds.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Irenas sentenced Serao to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $1,520,606.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Atlantic City Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark; and IRS B Criminal Investigation in Mays Landing, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, with the investigation leading to the sentencing.