Operation Stolen Dreams Defendant Sentenced to Federal Prison for Role in Mortgage Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office July 02, 2013|
In San Antonio, 46-year-old Robert Brooks, of Lantana, Texas, was sentenced to 135 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release and ordered to pay approximately $8.5 million restitution for his role in a mortgage fraud operation involving a series of property flip schemes, announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman; Armando Fernandez, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, San Antonio Division; and Steve McCullough, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation in San Antonio.
On January 29, 2013, a federal jury convicted Brooks of one count of conspiring to commit bank, wire and mail fraud, eight counts of mail fraud, and two counts of aiding the filing of false income tax returns.
Evidence presented during trial revealed that 20 individuals, under the direction of Robert Brooks, participated in a mortgage fraud scheme from May 17, 2005 until February 21, 2008, whereby Brooks purchased properties at fair market value then resold at an artificially inflated price to straw purchasers. Brooks recruited his co-defendants—appraisers, loan processors, title company employees, straw purchasers, etc.—and provided them with kickbacks from loan proceeds for their participation in the scheme. Evidence also revealed that Brooks used the proceeds from the purported sales to various nominees to pay for his initial purchase of real estate, to pay closing costs for both his purchase and sale to the nominee, to pay the nominee’s down-payment, to pay the nominee for the nominee’s participation, and to pay the mortgage for the first 12 months, after which each mortgage went into default. Brooks’ mortgage loan scheme involved over 40 properties primarily located in the Dallas area and defrauded financial institutions in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston of over $20 million. Jurors also found that Brooks caused the submission of false 2007 income tax returns for himself and his wife and for a partnership, which contained a false business expense.
Brooks is the only defendant in this case to be sentenced; 14 are awaiting sentencing after entering guilty pleas; and seven are still pending trial. This case resulted from an investigation by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney William R. Harris is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
Operation Stolen Dreams was organized by President Obama’s interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which was established to lead an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch and, with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information on the task force, visit stopfraud.gov.