Seven Defendants Sentenced Recently for Roles in Nationwide Foreclosure Rescue Scam
SACRAMENTO, CA—Seven defendants were sentenced recently for a huge mortgage fraud scheme that was charged in 2008. A federal grand jury brought two indictments that charged 19 people in a fraud scheme that promised to help homeowners avoid foreclosure and repair their credit. Most defendants have pleaded guilty or have been convicted by juries. The leaders, brothers Charles Head and Jeremy Michael Head, have been sentenced to 35 years and 10 years in prison respectively.
On December 10, 2014, United States District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller sentenced Benjamin Budoff to four years in prison. Judge Mueller sentenced, Leonard Bernot to 18 months in prison on Monday; on Wednesday, sentenced Akemi Bottari, on to three years’ probation; and on Thursday, sentenced Omar Sandoval to four years and 10 months in prison and Lisa Vang to three years’ probation. On Friday, Judge Mueller sentenced Andrew Vu to six months in prison, to be followed by six months of home detention, and Sarah Mattson was sentenced to three months of home detention.
In November, Kou Yang was sentenced to four years in prison, Joshua Coffman was sentenced to 20 months in prison, Justin Wiley was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and Elham Assadi was sentenced to six months of home detention.
According to court documents, the Head brothers and their associates solicited homeowners facing foreclosure, promising them that they would help the homeowners avoid foreclosure and repair their credit. Instead, through misrepresentations, fraud and forgery, the defendants substituted straw buyers for the victim homeowners on the titles of properties without the homeowners’ knowledge. These straw buyers were often friends and family members of the defendants. Once the straw buyers were on title to the homes, the defendants applied for mortgages to extract the maximum available equity from the homes. The defendants then shared the proceeds of the ill-gotten equity and the “rent” that the victim homeowners paid them. Ultimately, the victim homeowners were left with no home, no equity, and with damaged credit ratings. Between January 2004 and March 2006, the scam netted more than $15 million in fraudulently obtained funds from scores of homeowners, many of whom were in California.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael D. Anderson and Matthew G. Morris are prosecuting the case.
To date, all but four of the 19 defendants have been sentenced: Charges were dismissed against one defendant, one defendant is scheduled to be sentenced in January 2015, and charges remain pending against two defendants.
This case was part of the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, established to wage an aggressive, coordinated effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.