Three Defendants Plead Guilty in Bakersfield Mortgage Fraud Scheme
FRESNO, CA—Three members of the same family entered guilty pleas today in connection with a $5.6 million mortgage fraud scheme in Bakersfield, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
Bakersfield residents Eliseo Jara Jr., 35, and his brother, Sergio Jara, 33, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud. Sergio Jara’s wife, Melissa Jara, 34, pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
According to court documents, from 2007 to 2010, the Jara brothers conspired with others to use straw buyers to purchase residential properties in Bakersfield developed by Jara Brothers Investments (JBI) and Pershing Partners LLC. The conspirators paid straw buyers to purchase the properties from JBI and Pershing Partners, and funded the purchases using loans they obtained for the straw buyers based on false and fraudulent loan applications. Melissa Jara admitted to causing false loan applications and supporting documents to be submitted to a lender in order for a straw buyer to finance the purchase of a property from an LLC that she owned and controlled.
As part of their plea agreements, each defendant agreed to forfeit their interests in six properties in Bakersfield, a 2007 Lexus, and approximately $110,419 seized from a bank account. Additionally, Eliseo Jara agreed to a personal forfeiture money judgment of $5,664,250. Sergio Jara agreed to a personal forfeiture money judgment of $4,743,500. Melissa Jara agreed to a personal forfeiture money judgment of $534,750. Melissa Jara also agreed to deposit $100,000 with the Court toward her victim restitution obligation prior to her sentencing hearing.
This case is the product of a joint investigation by the Internal Revenue Service‑Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kirk E. Sherriff, Henry Z. Carbajal III, and Megan A. S. Richards are prosecuting the case.
The maximum sentence for the conspiracy charge and the wire fraud charge is 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The actual sentence will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
Four co-defendants have previously pleaded guilty. Antonio Perez-Marcial was sentenced on May 12, 2014 to 46 months in prison. Arlene Mojardin is scheduled to be sentenced on May 18, 2015. Candace Gonzales is scheduled to be sentenced on June 8, 2015. Ricardo Salinas is set for sentencing on June 29, 2015. The indictment charges two additional defendants, who are set to proceed to trial on April 28, 2015, before Judge Ishii. The charges as to these defendants are only allegations; they are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.