California Man with Colorado Ties Pleads Guilty in Multi-Million-Dollar Real Estate Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 10, 2013|
DENVER—Dale Johnson, age 46, of Los Angeles, California, pled guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Wiley Y. Daniel last week to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering, federal law enforcement authorities announced. Johnson, who is free on bond, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Daniel on January 21, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. Johnson and six other co-defendants, as mentioned below, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on September 1, 2011.
According to the facts contained in the indictment as well as the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, the scheme began in March 2006. Johnson was a member of a business group based out of Culver City, California, called Synergy. In early 2006, Synergy was made up of Dale Johnson (president and chief executive officer), Donald Beverly (vice president of New Business Development), Ronald Benjamin (regional manager and senior vice president of Sales & Marketing), Jimmy Hutchinson (chief financial officer), and Vincent Jackson (vice president of Marketing).
In 2006, Johnson began to present Synergy members with a number of properties available for purchase in Colorado. He began to develop business relationships with various real estate professionals in Colorado, to include Jerry Minney (real estate broker) and Scott Goldberg (mortgage broker). Minney and Golderg assisted Synergy members in the purchase of various homes in Colorado. Johnson and other Synergy members began traveling to Colorado, where they started purchasing multiple residential properties. The homes were typically purchased in the individual member’s own name, using the member’s personal credit history to qualify for the purchases. Johnson and others typically identified the property and helped arrange for the purchase by a Synergy member.
As part of the scheme, Synergy members with the assistance of Goldberg and other persons, submitted “uniform residential loan applications” to lenders in connection with qualifying for home loans. In a number of loan applications, Synergy members and other buyers provided, or assisted in providing, materially false statements, representations, and omissions to real estate lenders, or the lenders’ agents. False information included income, assets, debts, employment history, and/or intent to occupy the home as a primary residence.
Furthermore, Synergy Members, with the assistance of Goldberg, Minney, and others, arranged for a portion of lender funds from home purchases to be paid to Synergy Members as “kickbacks." Such kickbacks were often concealed from lenders through a series of false statements and material omissions made in connection with closings for properties or in connection with the loan documents submitted to the lenders. To further conceal the kickbacks from lenders, they routed payments through third parties posing as property management companies, such as “5280 Denver Real Estate” and “Willow Property Management,” and through realtor commissions paid to Broker One Real Estate.
Donald Beverly pled guilty on July 30, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on November 20, 2013. Scott Goldberg pled guilty on June 12, 2012, and is scheduled to be sentenced on October 15, 2013. Vincent Jackson pled guilty on May 23, 2012, and was sentenced to 60 months of probation on October 17, 2012.
Wire fraud carries a penalty of not more than 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 per count. Money laundering carries a penalty of not more than 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 per count.
This case was investigated by agents with Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Postal Service, and the U.S. Secret Service.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tim Neff.