July 29, 2014

Seven Sentenced to Federal Prison in Multi-Million-Dollar Mortgage Fraud Scheme

HOUSTON—The final two defendants charged for their roles in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme operating in the Houston area have been ordered to prison, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Din Chaney, 36, and Lisa Lipton, 50, admitted to participating in a conspiracy to commit bank, mail and wire fraud as did Catherine Sanoubane, 35, Jose Batista, 36, Dennis Hannah, 43, Nathaniel Gordon III, 32, and Shawn Lewis Washington, 38.

All were convicted of the conspiracy. Chaney, Sanoubane, Hannah and Gordon also admitted to conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Today, U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal sentenced Chaney to a total of 36 months, while Lipton received a 52-month-term of imprisonment. Lipton and Chaney were also ordered to pay $3,499,129.06 and $4,551,917.65 in restitution, respectively.

Sanoubane, Hannah, Gordon, Washington and Batista were all sentenced earlier this year to respective terms of 115, 46, 24, 97 and six months in federal prison. All were also ordered to pay restitution in varying amounts ranging from more than $1.6 million to more than $6.3 million.

The scheme involved the recruitment of straw borrowers to purchase residential properties at an inflated value. Financing was obtained from various lenders who were provided false and fraudulent information meant to induce them to fund the loans. The defendants arranged to be compensated with a portion of the loan proceeds.

Ultimately, the loans fell into default which resulted in a substantial loss to the lenders. Sanoubane, Lipton, Chaney and Gordon were all licensed loan officers in the State of Texas engaged in mortgage lending during the commission of the fraud. In addition, Lipton was also a licensed mortgage broker doing business as TWMC Inc.

The criminal investigation was led by the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Annis is prosecuting.