Home Phoenix Press Releases 2013 Real Estate Agent and Developer/Loan Officer Both Sentenced to Prison for Mortgage Fraud

Real Estate Agent and Developer/Loan Officer Both Sentenced to Prison for Mortgage Fraud

U.S. Attorney’s Office September 24, 2013
  • District of Arizona (602) 514-7500

TUCSON, AZ—William Michael Naponelli, 69, and Bryan Atwood, 52, both from Tucson, Arizona, were sentenced to federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge Cindy K. Jorgenson for their roles in a mortgage fraud scheme. Naponelli was sentenced to 24 months in prison on September 23, 2013. Atwood was sentenced to 15 months in prison on September 20, 2013. Naponelli previously pleaded guilty to the felony offenses of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and conspiracy to commit transactional money laundering on December 20, 2012. Atwood previously pleaded guilty on February 25, 2013, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, also a felony.

As part of his guilty plea, Naponelli, a former real estate developer and loan officer, admitted his participation in a scheme to obtain various loans between July 2006 and May 2007. Naponelli and another co-conspirator real estate developer purchased several properties using various business entities with which they were associated. Thereafter, Naponelli and his fellow co-conspirator sold these properties to straw buyers.

As part of the loan approval process, Naponelli knowingly caused to be submitted documents with knowledge that they contained material false statements including representations that the borrowers would provide the down payment or cash to close the real estate transactions. After the fraudulently obtained loan proceeds were received, portions of these proceeds were wired or deposited into bank accounts controlled by Naponelli or another co-conspirator.

Atwood, who at the time of this conspiracy was a licensed real estate agent, admitted as part of his guilty plea that he obtained three properties through fraudulently obtained loans. He admitted that he knew that documents provided to the lenders on his behalf relating to these properties contained one or more material false representations.

The properties obtained as result of this mortgage fraud scheme went into foreclosure resulting in significant losses to the lenders. As part of Naponelli’s sentence, he was ordered to pay restitution totaling approximately $3.1 million. Atwood was ordered to pay approximately $585,000.

Naponelli and Atwood are the third and fourth co-defendants to be sentenced in this case. Previously, co-defendants Walter Scott Fruit and Sandra Jackson were each sentenced to federal prison for their involvement in the conspiracy. Fruit, who was also a licensed real estate agent, received a 30-month prison sentence. Jackson, a former escrow agent, received six months in prison.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Jonathan B. Granoff, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Tucson.