Texans Sentenced in East Texas Mortgage Fraud Conspiracy
PLANO, TX—Five defendants have been sentenced for their roles in a mortgage fraud conspiracy in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today. Sentencing hearings were held before U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone.
Debra Rush-Santens, 42, of Plano, pleaded guilty on Oct.4, 2012, and was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison on Mar. 12, 2015, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of 6,215,087.47.
Casey Irons, 42, of Rockwall, Texas, pleaded guilty on Dec 18, 2012, and was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison on Mar. 12, 2015, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $5,907,697.05.
Chris Limbrick, 47, of Houston, pleaded guilty on Nov 8, 2012, and was sentenced to 47 months in federal prison on Mar. 13, 2015, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $4,521,764.15.
Gregory Preston, 43, of Cedar Hill, Texas, pleaded guilty on Dec 18, 2012, and was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison on Mar. 16, 2015, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,085,085.52.
Eric Patterson, 36, of Dallas, pleaded guilty on Nov 8, 2012, and was sentenced to 25 months in federal prison on Mar. 12, 2015, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,233,784.91.
Santens, Irons, Limbrick, and Preston all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Patterson and another conspirator, Michael Allen, 47, of Houston, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Allen pleaded guilty on July 7, 2014, and does not have a sentencing date at this time.
According to information presented in court, from July 2006 to March 2008, in the Eastern District of Texas and elsewhere, Santens conspired with Irons, Limbrick, Preston, Patterson, and Allen to engage in monetary transactions in criminally-derived property of a value greater than $10,000, which property was derived from wire fraud, that is a scheme to induce lending institutions to fund mortgage loans for residential properties for which the property values had been fraudulently inflated for buyers who had been fraudulently qualified for loans.
Santens owned, operated, and controlled Silver Key Financial (“SKF”), LDS Lakehill Developers Group, L.P. (“LDS”), and North Texas Developers Group (“NTDG”) from her residence in Plano, Texas, and at her office in Frisco, Texas, both in the Eastern District of Texas. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Santens caused HUD-1 forms to be submitted to lending institutions that falsely stated that the buyers had provided the down payment for the purchase of the property when Santens was the source of the down payment. Santens knew at the time of submission to the lending institutions that the source of the down payment was material to the lender in determining whether to fund the requested mortgage loan. Santens also knew that co-conspirators would provide documents containing false information to the lending institutions; that lending institutions would rely on the false material representations made in the loan documents in determining whether to fund the mortgage loans; that the lending institutions would provide the loan funds through the use of interstate wire transfers; and Santens intended for these actions to occur.
Santens, as a recipient of the criminally-derived loan funds from the title companies’ subsequent disbursements, distributed the proceeds through wire transfers in amounts greater than $10,000 to co-conspirators as kickbacks for their roles in the conspiracy.
Irons’ role in the offense was to identify properties that could be fraudulently flipped by Santens, through one of her companies, at a fraudulently inflated price to a straw buyer. Irons coordinated these fraudulent deals with the title company employees, the appraisers, Santens, and other co-conspirators. Irons knowingly caused false gift letters and false verifications of employment forms to be submitted to lenders to induce the lenders to fund the mortgage loans.
Limbrick was a loan officer for Outlook Mortgage who assisted individuals with completing Loan Applications in order to qualify the individuals for mortgage loans from lending institutions.
Patterson and Preston’s role in the offense was to recruit buyers to purchase properties in a fraudulent flipping scheme where Santens, through one of her companies, would sell properties at a fraudulently inflated price.
Allen was a loan processor for Mortgage Icons who assisted individuals with completing Loan Applications in order to qualify the individuals for mortgage loans from lending institutions.
This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.
This case was investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS Criminal Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andy Williams and Chris Eason.