Home Builder Sentenced to Prison for Mortgage Fraud-Related Crimes
|U.S. Attorney’s Office July 23, 2013|
LAS VEGAS—A Las Vegas-area homebuilder has been sentenced to 14 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $4.4 million in restitution for selling houses at inflated prices in order to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Paul Wagner, 59, was sentenced on Monday, July 22, 2013, by U.S. District Judge Miranda M. Du. Wagner was convicted by a jury in October 2012 of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, six counts of bank fraud, and three count of wire fraud.
“Since the inception of our mortgage fraud program in the spring of 2008, over 200 persons have been charged with federal mortgage fraud crimes in Nevada,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “Most of those individuals were convicted and are in prison. Wagner is the first home builder to be charged and convicted.”
Wagner was a home builder in Las Vegas for 20 years, building tract homes in the northwest part of the Las Vegas valley. From about 2007 to 2009, Wagner created a scheme to provide large cash incentives to buyers, real estate agents, and others to sell his homes. The incentives included Wagner paying buyers’ mortgage payments, making large cash payments to real estate agents and others to find buyers, and paying buyers’ down payments. To pay the incentives, Wagner inflated the value of the homes by causing appraisers to create false appraisals. Wagner concealed the incentives from the lenders, who would not have made the loans had they known about his methods. Using this fraudulent scheme, Wagner sold about 85 houses from March 2007 to mid-2009. Most of the homes went into foreclosure after Wagner stopped making the mortgage payments. The losses to the financial institutions were more than $18 million.
The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel R. Schiess.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, i is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.