Las Vegas Defense Attorney Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Erase More Than $800,000 in Mortgage Debt
LAS VEGAS—Luis J. Rojas, a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney, pleaded guilty today in federal court to making false statements in connection with a fraudulent “short sale” of his property in Henderson Nevada.
As detailed in the plea agreement, Rojas purchased a single family home in 2006, for $935,430, which he financed by taking out two mortgages from Homecomings Financial Network, a GMAC company (“GMAC”). Rojas then lived in the home until February 2011, when he sent an offer to GMAC, proposing a “short sale” of the property for $288,000. Under the terms of the offer, Rojas would sell the property to an unrelated buyer; and, after the sale was complete, Rojas would be relieved of his obligation to repay the $935,430 in mortgages. GMAC agreed to the sale, on the condition that Rojas was not affiliated with the buyer.
What Rojas failed to disclose to GMAC was that his brother-in-law was acting as a “straw buyer,” and that Rojas was providing him with the money necessary to conduct the “sham” transaction. In reality, Rojas would be purchasing the property from himself. To effectuate the scheme, Rojas traveled to several bank branches in Las Vegas and Henderson Nevada, and withdrew a total of $290,000 in cash from his personal bank account and that of his wife. He then collected the bulk cash in a duffel bag and gave the bag to his brother-in-law. His brother-in-law then used the funds to complete the purchase of the house from Rojas for $289,822.08. Rojas, however, never moved out of the home, and one month later, Jacobs transferred title back to Rojas. The net result was that Rojas eliminated his $935,430 mortgage obligation, and now owned his home outright.
As further detailed in the plea agreement, Rojas also made false statements in connection with his earlier attempts to refinance his home. Specifically, Rojas attempted to renegotiate his mortgage, claiming that he could no longer afford his monthly payments. As part of the negotiation process, Rojas submitted a financial disclosure form, in which he hid the fact that he maintained a brokerage account with liquid assets totaling more than $134,000.
Rojas faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the pecuniary gain or twice the pecuniary loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for June 1 at 10 a.m. before U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan.
- Luis J. Rojas
- Age 38
- Henderson, Nevada
Making a False Statement in a Matter Within the Jurisdiction of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001.
Federal Bureau of Investigation