Jury Convicts Arizona Man of Mortgage Fraud Crimes
LAS VEGAS—An Arizona man, whose conviction on mortgage fraud charges had been overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and remanded for a new trial, was convicted again today of conspiracy and fraud charges, announced U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden, for the District of Nevada.
Following a four-day jury trial, and 1½ days of deliberations, Brett Depue, 42, of Gilbert, Ariz., was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit mail, bank and wire fraud, and seven counts wire fraud. Depue was remanded to custody and sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 9 at 9:00 a.m.
“We are pleased that a second jury determined that Mr. Depue had committed fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “There were over 100 homes used as part of this conspiracy to defraud the financial institutions of millions.”
Depue, representing himself, was first convicted by a jury in 2012, and sentenced to almost 22 years in prison. Depue appealed, and the Ninth Circuit found that his waiver of his right to counsel did not comport with established standards, so they vacated his convictions and remanded the case for a new trial.
During 2005 to 2007, Depue operated a number of Nevada businesses in Las Vegas, including, ABS Investments Group, LLC, and Liberty Group Investments, LLC. From about February 1, 2005, to May 31, 2007, Depue participated in a conspiracy with about 13 others to defraud federally insured banks. The conspiracy consisted of recruiting straw buyers, typically friends or family members with good credit, to purchase homes that they had no intent to occupy and which Depue would control. Depue paid the straw buyers about $5,000 to put houses in their name, sometimes up to five houses. Depue then directed co-conspirators to prepare mortgage applications containing false and fraudulent information, so that the straw buyers could qualify for the loans. During the beginning of the scheme, Depue orchestrated simple straw buyer transactions in which the straw buyers purchased properties using 100 percent financing. The properties were purchased at a price above the asking price, and the difference was disbursed at closing to one of defendant’s entities. Later, Depue began using “double escrows” in which a buyer purchased a property and soon thereafter resold it to a straw buyer at an inflated price, often on the same day.
Using this scheme, Depue and his co-conspirators obtained mortgage loans for 110 homes in Las Vegas and Henderson between April 2005 and April 2007. The houses went into foreclosure, and it is estimated that financial institutions lost more $24 million as a result of Depue’s fraud.
Ten co-conspirators were also convicted for their roles in the offense.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah E. Griswold and Lisa Cartier-Giroux.
This prosecution is part of efforts underway by 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. For more information about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.com.