Bethel Park Man Pleads Guilty in Mortgage Fraud Scheme
PITTSBURGH—The founder of a mortgage brokerage firm pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
Richard Stromberg, 49, of Bethel Park, Pa., pleaded guilty before Senior United States District Judge Donetta Ambrose.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Stromberg has been in the mortgage broker business since the 1990s. He worked first at a company called Century Three Home Equity and then opened his own business, which was called Great American Equity Mortgage. From in and around August of 2002, and continuing until in and around June of 2008, Stromberg knowingly conspired with various other individuals associated with Great American Equity Mortgage, many of whom were former employees of Century Three Home Equity, to defraud lenders. The conspiracy involved the submission to lenders of loan applications that contained material misrepresentations about the borrower’s financial condition, such as inflating the borrower’s income and assets, and appraisals that overstated the values of the properties serving as collateral for the loans. Stromberg and others also submitted false supporting documentation for the misrepresentations contained in the applications.
Judge Ambrose scheduled sentencing for Jan. 12, 2015. The law provides for a total sentence of 30 years in prison, a fine of $1,000,000, or both, but the plea agreement calls for a five-year term of imprisonment. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Brendan T. Conway is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Mortgage Fraud Task Force conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Stromberg. The Mortgage Fraud Task Force is comprised of investigators from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and others involved in the mortgage industry. Federal law enforcement agencies participating in the Mortgage Task Force include the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; the United States Postal Inspection Service; and the United States Secret Service. Other Mortgage Fraud Task Force members include the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office; the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Bureau of Consumer Protection; the Pennsylvania Department of Banking; the Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation; and the United States Trustee’s Office.