Northern California Developer and Escrow Agent Indicted in Multi-Million-Dollar Commercial Loan Fraud
SACRAMENTO, CA—A federal grand jury returned a 21-count indictment today against Abolghasseni “Abe” Alizadeh, 56, of Granite Bay, and Mary Sue Weaver, 62, of Roseville, charging them with various counts of mail, wire and bank fraud in connection with schemes to defraud lenders in large commercial real estate transactions between mid-2004 and April 2008, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, Alizadeh, a property developer, was formerly the principal partner in Kobra Properties, a company that owned numerous commercial real estate properties in Northern California. Alizadeh also owned dozens of Jack in the Box, TGI Fridays, Sonic Burger, Qudoba Mexican Grills and other restaurants in the region. Although his assets at one point had an estimated value of $1 billion, Kobra and several other entities controlled by Alizadeh filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Weaver was an escrow officer with Placer Title Company. The indictment alleges that she and Alizadeh engaged in a scheme to get loans at inflated amounts on commercial and residential real estate. To carry out the scheme, Alizadeh allegedly would submit false information, including altered purchase contracts for million-dollar property purchases, to federally insured banks in order to make it appear that Alizadeh was purchasing the properties for a greater amount than the actual purchase price. According to court documents, Weaver assisted the fraud scheme in various ways including by taking the money belonging to other Placer County clients and temporarily moving the funds into accounts controlled by Alizadeh.
“Over the last five years, we have prosecuted over 300 mortgage fraud defendants,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner. “Although we are seven years removed from the financial crisis, the statute of limitations has not run on many offenses from that period. We will continue to investigate and to hold accountable those whose conduct defrauded others and helped precipitate a financial crisis that did so much harm to homeowners, investors and the financial system.”
Wade V. Walters, Special Agent-in-Charge for of the FDIC Office of Inspector General’s Office of Investigations stated: “The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Office of Inspector General is pleased to join the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement colleagues in bringing about this indictment. Our office is particularly concerned about conduct that could affect the safety and soundness of FDIC-insured institutions. We are committed in our efforts to help ensure integrity in the financial services industry.”
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael D. Anderson and Heiko P. Coppola are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Alizadeh and Weaver face a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for each count. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are each presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.