Jamaican Woman Commits Mortgage Fraud in Florida

Yvette Scott-Patterson will be charged with mortgage fraud in the purchasing of more than 30 properties by use of fraudulent home loans. The US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida has said Scott-Patterson will be facing six years in prison, a $110,000 fine and deportation after her sentence. Prosecutors say that she and others in her group used false documentation in order to secure loans. Some of the fake papers were forged bank statements, false or stolen drivers licenses and phony employment verification letters. It is estimated that nearly $10 million in fraud was conducted by Scott-Patterson and her criminal colleagues. She fled the country in 2006 and was arrested 2 years later by the local Fugitve Apprehension Team resulting in her extradition back to the US. Nine individuals, including her husband Delroy Patterson, were charged and have plead guilty. Scott-Patterson's formal charges were one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, as well as another count of aggravated identity theft in association with the scheme.

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Mortgage Broker and Others Prosecuted in South Florida Mortgage Fraud

Mike Ohana, 39, Ryan Dosen, 30, and Paula Ramos, 52, were among nine people involved in a complex mortgage fraud scheme skyrocketing into the millions of dollars of theft. The group allegedly defrauded $3 million from two banks by use of fraudulent loans. Authorities stated that Ramos verified the loan applications on two properties in Miami in a fraudulent fashion. Washington Mutual was the bank defrauded by Go Expert Mortgage, the group owned by Ramos. Fraud occurred when Ramos vouched for the applications as true. Dosen was the attorney that worked as a title attorney for the deal.

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Large Florida Mortgage Lender Stops Loans

Taylor, Bean & Whitaker halted all mortgage loan funding today in result of a federal investigation. Federal authorities had called the company to close loans which were insured by the Federal Housing Administration. In addition to the FHA suspending the firm, Ginnie Mae cut off Taylor, Bean & Whitaker from its mortgage-backed securities program. Mortgage fraud is running rampant in large-level organizations in today's business age and its affecting consumers directly. The lender based out of Ocala did not submit a mandatory report which led to the investigation and eventual shutdown.

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41 Floridians Charged in Mortgage Fraud

US Attorney Jeffrey Sloman was the acting official in charge of launching an investigation and resulting criminal charges against the recent wave of 41 individuals caught in the mortgage fraud net. Nearly $41 million were amassed from the six cases the charges are stemmed from. Feds say that almost every level of the transactions were fraudulent including the purchasers, lenders, and title companies. US Attorney Sloman has accumulated 218 people in the wake of an anti-fraud initiative conducted throughout South Florida. It is said that the total damage created by these mortgage fraud schemes are around $268 million. Florida ranks in the top five states in the country for mortgage fraud. Many don't realize how damaging mortgage fraud and these white-collar crimes are as they injure homeowners by effectively creating more foreclosures and the resulting inflation or deflation of home prices.

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Multi-million dollar settlement of Florida mortgage company

Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp. will be paying $9 million in a settlement to the state of New Jersey. In part of a multi-state settlement with a Florida-based mortgage company, the corporation was accused of mortgage fraud by selling high risk mortgages and using shady lending procedures. The state banking agency identifying as the plaintiff in this case also claimed that half of the money to be dispersed in the settlement will go to the national system in progress that will attempt to prevent fraud and make the mortgage regulation process more efficient.

Over $3 billion in assets were apparent in the Ocala, FL company. $30 billion in loans were made annually as well. TBW gave over $100,000 in refunds in response to erroneously charged fees to all their New Jersey customers from 2006. The Obama administration's foreclosure prevention program, known as the Making Home Affordable program, will be used in the guidelines the TBW corporation will adapt with in relations with their customers with loans.

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Florida Mortgage Fraud Investigated by Attorney General

Gideon Rechnitz currently faces two lawsuits of mortgage fraud in Sarasota County, including one by 71-year-old Yolanda Rodriguez. She claims that in 2006 Rechnitz improperly evicted her and her deaf brother from their home, which he acknowledged in a deposition was worth far more than the $150,000 Rodriguez owed on her mortgage. Rechnitz said in the fall that his foreclosure rescue business had slowed considerably in 2008 because it was harder to find people like Rodriguez with substantial equity. But as home­owners who got 100 percent financing now struggle to renegotiate their mortgage terms, state records show he recently started a new company called Loan Modification Enterprises.

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Florida Prosecutions of Mortgage Fraud: Part 13

§ 877.54, Fla. Stat. (2009) should be reduced to an attempt because the crime was not completed.108 The defendant reasoned the corporation “…was not deceived as a result of any false representations and issued the check in an attempt to lure her presence and facilitate her arrest.”109 The court agreed with the defendant and determined the record did “…not demonstrate reliance by the victim on the defendant’s misrepresentations.”110

Furthermore, § 877.54, Fla. Stat. (2009) and § 877.10, Fla. Stat. (2009) are similar to the mail, wire and bank fraud statutes because it is evidence of a defendant’s involvement in “…the scheme to defraud and not actual fraud that is required.”111 “No particular type of victim is required…nor need the scheme have succeeded.”112 Although the government need not prove there is any reliance or injury, it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the evidence shows a “…willful participation in [the] scheme with knowledge of its fraudulent nature and with intent that these illicit objectives be achieved.”113 However, a defendant may have a complete defense to wire fraud, bank fraud, or money laundering negating the specific intent element of the statutes if a jury determines a defendant acted in a good faith belief his or her actions were not illegal.114

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Any use of the previous article requires written permission from Attorney Ralph Behr and from this website and its subsidiaries under State and Federal Law. DO NOT copy and use the text provided above and/or publish as your own. The document may only be used for private study or distributing among peers in paper, not on internet transmission, with no intent to make profit or sell without credit being due to the original author.

Florida Foreclosures On the Rise

The number of foreclosures in Miami-Dade and Broward continued rising last month, as mounting job losses crippled borrowers’ ability to make monthly payments and lenders lifted previous foreclosure moratoriums and resumed legal action against delinquent accounts. In Miami-Dade County, lenders filed 3,043 initial foreclosure actions against homeowners and reclaimed 819 homes through foreclosure. Hundreds more were scheduled for auction at the courthouse, according to a monthly foreclosure report from Irving, Calif.-based RealtyTrac.

Many lenders suspended foreclosures in the first half of the year as they waited for the Obama administration to release details of a national foreclosure prevention initiative. In February, it launched the Making Home Affordable Plan, which is expected to help as many as 9 million borrowers avoid foreclosure by refinancing or modifying their current mortgages.

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Florida Mortgage Fraud Ring Under Arrest

Nine people have been charged in connection with a $2.4 million dollar mortgage fraud conspiracy. The ring was led by a leader based in Alachua County as well as among for other counties. FDLE made all 9 arrests last Tuesday and said that 17 homes are under investigation in Marion County. William H. King, 52, and Beverly Ann King, 52, are the alleged leaders of the group. The formal charges levied against King and the other 7 in the ring were criminal racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering (RICO).

A chief investigator in the arrests said that the organization they had just apprehended is no different than any other organization in that it requires "a lot of people ot get the job done - mortgage brokers, notary publics, people working in a title company, people who are appraisers. It takes all of these people to get a loan through. And what these people did was work together to deceive the mortgage lenders."

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Cop Charged By Federal Authorities for Mortgage Fraud

Hidayatullah Ali Khalil, 29, has been charged for providing false information on a mortgage loan application in attempting to purchase two home which would eventually become foreclosed. He was arrested last Thursday on a complaint levied by three separate individuals. The FBI took notice and have in holding in order to be seen in a federal court under a $75,000 unsecured bond. The incident of mortgage fraud resulted in Khali buying homes in Elk Grove and Watsonville, CA in 2005.

Khali removed more than $100,000 cash from the Elk Grove property in two separate transactions. Further investigation is underway by the FBI into the Santa Cruz police officer and other related individuals.

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Florida Mortgage Fraud Prosecutions: Part 13

Attorney Behr's mortgage fraud prosecutions series continues with the following excerpt:

§ 877.54, Fla. Stat. (2009) should be reduced to an attempt because the crime was not completed.108 The defendant reasoned the corporation “…was not deceived as a result of any false representations and issued the check in an attempt to lure her presence and facilitate her arrest.”109 The court agreed with the defendant and determined the record did “…not demonstrate reliance by the victim on the defendant’s misrepresentations.”110

Furthermore, § 877.54, Fla. Stat. (2009) and § 877.10, Fla. Stat. (2009) are similar to the mail, wire and bank fraud statutes because it is evidence of a defendant’s involvement in “…the scheme to defraud and not actual fraud that is required.”111 “No particular type of victim is required…nor need the scheme have succeeded.”112 Although the government need not prove there is any reliance or injury, it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the evidence shows a “…willful participation in [the] scheme with knowledge of its fraudulent nature and with intent that these illicit objectives be achieved.”113 However, a defendant may have a complete defense to wire fraud, bank fraud, or money laundering negating the specific intent element of the statutes if a jury determines a defendant acted in a good faith belief his or her actions were not illegal.114

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Any use of the previous article requires written permission from Attorney Ralph Behr and from this website and its subsidiaries under State and Federal Law. DO NOT copy and use the text provided above and/or publish as your own. The document may only be used for private study or distributing among peers in paper, not on internet transmission, with no intent to make profit or sell without credit being due to the original author.

Florida Prosecutions of Mortgage Fraud: Part 12

Compared and Contrasted Against One Another

V. DEFENSES

Unlike § 817.545, Fla. Stat. (2009) and two other federal statutes concerning mortgage fraud previously discussed, both § 877.10, Fla. Stat. (2009) and § 817.54, Fla. Stat. (2009) require reliance by a person or entity by the fraudulent activity undertaken in order for a defendant to be convicted for either statute. § 877.10, Fla. Stat. (2009) specifically states this reliance requirement,102 but § 877.54, Fla. Stat. (2009) does not.103 However, the latter’s reliance requirement is laid out in the Third District Court of Appeal case, Adams v. State, 650 So.2d 1039 (Fla. 3d DCA 1995).

In Adams, the defendant gave “…an erroneous address and social security number, and misrepresented the address of…” an unregistered company the defendant owned to obtain a mortgage loan from a corporation.104 Subsequently, the company determined the information was false and notified law enforcement.105 “The police suggested issuing the check to lure the defendant to appear.”106 After exiting the corporation’s office, the defendant was arrested.107 A jury convicted the defendant and on appeal she argued her conviction for a violation of ...

To be continued in the next posting of Attorney Behr's prosecution series...


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Any use of the previous article requires written permission from Attorney Ralph Behr and from this website and its subsidiaries under State and Federal Law. DO NOT copy and use the text provided above and/or publish as your own. The document may only be used for private study or distributing among peers in paper, not on internet transmission, with no intent to make profit or sell without credit being due to the original author.

Florida Prosecutions of Mortgage Fraud: Part 11

Attorney Behr's mortgage fraud prosecutions series will continue with this portion of the article:

Dissimilar to the Florida statute, other states require “…a pattern of residential mortgage fraud…”99 to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt before being adjudicated of a higher penalty. Other states have even set out elemental qualifications for patterns of mortgage fraud. North Carolina’s legislature requires “…five or more mortgage loans which have the same or similar intents, results, accomplices, victims or methods of commission or otherwise are interrelated by distinguishing characteristics…”100 Kentucky, Georgia, Arizona, Mississippi and Nevada describe a pattern of residential mortgage fraud “…that involves two (2) or more mortgage loans…”101 Requiring state prosecutors to prove “a pattern of mortgage fraud” ensures those persons who intend to conduct schemes to defraud persons and lending institutions are truly deserving of heightened felonies. On the other hand, by not requiring “a pattern of mortgage fraud” the Florida Legislature has not only made Florida Assistant State Attorney jobs easier, but has also allowed those persons who conduct multiple acts of mortgage fraud to escape with only third degree felony convictions as long as the scheme total does not amount to $100,000.00.

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Any use of the previous article requires written permission from Attorney Ralph Behr and from this website and its subsidiaries under State and Federal Law. DO NOT copy and use the text provided above and/or publish as your own. The document may only be used for private study or distributing among peers in paper, not on internet transmission, with no intent to make profit or sell without credit being due to the original author.

Florida Mortgage Fraud Prosecutions: Part 10

Attorney Behr's mortgage fraud prosecutions series continues with the following excerpt:

ii. State

Dissimilar to legislation by the federal government, the State of Florida and other states have specific promulgated legislation to prosecute mortgage fraud. Florida has three different statutes regarding mortgage fraud. The first two statutes are more concerned with the actual mortgage transaction while the last revolves around the process in the obtainment of a mortgage. The first statute, § 877.10, Fla. Stat. (2009) prohibits “…any person to knowingly make, issue, deliver, or receive dual contracts, either written or oral…” for the “…same parcel of real property…” one with “…the true and actual purchase price and..” and another reflecting “…a purchase price in excess of the true and actual purchase price…” used to induce mortgage investors “…to make a loan commitment on such real property in reliance upon the stated inflated value…” is guilty of a second degree misdemeanor.94 The second statute, § 817.54, Fla. Stat. (2009) concerns any person who “…obtains any mortgage, mortgage note, promissory note, or other instrument evidencing a debt from any person or obtains the signature of any person…” “…by color or aid of fraudulent or false pretenses…” is “…guilty of a felony of the third degree…”95

Lastly, the third and final statute, § 817.545, Fla. Stat. (2009) was promulgated for material misrepresentations or omissions in the “mortgage lending process.”96 § 817.545, Fla. Stat. (2009) was instituted to combat what Florida and other states have determined to be a serious problem, residential mortgage fraud.97 To battle against this serious issue of residential mortgage fraud, states have enacted legislation normally termed residential mortgage fraud acts to punish two different degrees of conduct committed during the mortgage lending process. Generally, as in other states, violations of § 817.545, Fla. Stat. (2009) are third degree felonies, however, exposure to a second degree felony under this statute is possible if “…the loan value stated on documents used in the mortgage lending process exceeds $100,000…”98 This monetary value qualifier for what Florida’s legislature considers to be more abhorrent conduct is inconsistent with other states’ mortgage fraud statutes.


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Any use of the previous article requires written permission from Attorney Ralph Behr and from this website and its subsidiaries under State and Federal Law. DO NOT copy and use the text provided above and/or publish as your own. The document may only be used for private study or distributing among peers in paper, not on internet transmission, with no intent to make profit or sell without credit being due to the original author.

Florida Mortgage Brokers Caught by SEC

Steven Shrago, a St. Petersburg mortgage broker, has been indicted among many other mortgage brokers in the area of disguising the risks of investing in mortgage backed securities. The original complaint filed against the defendants in the US District Court of Florida claimed that retirees were targeted by falsely marketed investments in derivatives of mortgage-backed securities. They were called "safe" and "suitable for retirees and others with conservative investment goals." The name of the company targeted by the charges was Brookstreet Securities Corp. Shrago was a registered representative and investment adviser for Wedbush Morgan Securities Inc. Many other residents of Florida were charged along with Shrago, many living in Boca Raton, Pompano Beach, Parkland, and Weston.

The original complaint filed by the SEC said that over $18 million in combined salaries and commissions were dispersed to the defendants while more than $36 million were suffered in losses by nearly 750 investors. As well as the SEC being involved in this matter, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority filed charges in suit with the original charges against six other brokers formerly with the company in question. Mortgage fraud occurred here and is clearly the general charge in question.

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South Florida Jamaican Gets Mortgage Fraud Charges

Yvette Scott Patterson appeared in court recently in connections with a mortgage fraud operation. She fled the country to Jamaica, trying to avoid being detained. Her business front used fraudulent bank statement, fake employment verifications, stolen drivers licenses and other false documents in order to secure loans for the homes purchased by the company during the real estate boom.

The Magistrate in charge of her case will determine by the end of the week whether Patterson will be eligible for bond. Originally when Patterson was apprehended in Jamaica, she waved her right to fight extradition back to the United States.

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Mortgage Fraud Florida and SEC Poised to Indict

Angelo Mozilo is in hot water with mortgage fraud charges and civil lawsuits in 4 states, Florida included. Mozilo's Countrywide Financial is just one of the many mortgage brokerages under fire for profiting and conductive illegal activity during the recently devastating boom and bust. Last July, Bank of America, for $2.5 billion, bought Countrywide with Mozilo leaving soon after the completion of the deal.

A white collar offense can also lead to civil lawsuits filed by the government or the persons who were allegedly victimized by the crime. Unlike in a criminal case, the accused in a civil lawsuit does not have the right to remain silent, and they may be obligated to testify at their own trial. An attorney will not be appointed for them if they cannot afford one on their own.

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Florida Prosecution of Mortgage Frauds by Criminal Lawyer Ralph Behr: Part 8

South Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog is proud to present the next installment of Attorney Behr's mortgage fraud prosecutions series:


18 U.S.C. §1956 Laundering of monetary instruments

&

18 U.S.C. §1957 Engaging in monetary transactions in property

derived from specified unlawful activity


Both statutes essentially have the same purpose of preventing persons from legitimizing proceeds obtained illegally although there are differences. 18 U.S.C. § 1956, is concerned with any financial transaction concerning proceeds of a “specified unlawful activity”73 whenever action is focused to keep the criminal activity from being discovered, or to hide the source or current possessor of the funds, or to avoid the mandatory disclosures under the Bank Secrecy Act under Title 31 U.S.C.74 Conversely, provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 1957 is applicable if a person “…knowingly engages or attempts to engage in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000 and is derived from specified unlawful activity…”75

In United States v. Moncrief, 133 Fed.Appx. 924 (5th Cir. 2004), both of these statutes were instituted in a case which the government claimed to be “…the largest mortgage-loan-fraud operation ever to be prosecuted.”76 The case involved Meis Enterprises which was owned and operated by the Meis family.77 Mei Enterprises was a conglomeration of several businesses operated by members of the Mei family.78 Mei Enterprises operated a construction company and several real estate companies.79 Although the assortment of companies had differing bank accounts and officers in charge, Mei Enterprises “…operated out of one common office.”80

The alleged end result of the mortgage fraud scheme was to collect “…large amounts of cash by inducing mortgage lenders to provide the Meis with loans that were $50,000 to $80,000…” over what “…it cost the Meis to purchase the real estate that served as the collateral for the loan.”81 In order to obtain the loans, “…the Meis orchestrated sham real estate transactions in which the Meis would appear to sell a particular property, which…” would overlap “…with actual sales in which the Meis would purchase, for the first time, the very same property.”82 Purportedly, the Meis first would find a property for sale and “…acting through one of their realty companies such as Hathaway Properties, would contract to purchase the property from its owner.”83

Third parties or straw buyer would serve as a temporary purchaser usually Frank Mei Sr. to complete “…a parallel sham transaction that would be used to obtain an inflated loan.”84 Mortgage brokers in one of the Mei Enterprises would falsify employment and income information on loan application to lenders.85 Eventually, Moncrief, a residential real estate appraiser became involved in the Mei scheme.86 Allegedly, Moncrief used the Mei’s formula for over inflating the value of selected properties and “…was involved in more straw buyer transactions than any other appraiser that the Meis use…”87 which exposed him to the money laundering violations.88

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Any use of the previous article requires written permission from Ralph Behr and from this website and its subsidiaries under State and Federal Law. DO NOT copy and use the text provided above and/or publish as your own. The document may only be used for private study or distributing among peers in paper, not on internet transmission, with no intent to make profit or sell without credit being due to the original author.

South Florida Mortgage Fraud Prosecution by Ralph Behr: Part 8

The next installment of Attorney Behr's mortgage fraud prosecutions series:


18 U.S.C. §1956 Laundering of monetary instruments

&

18 U.S.C. §1957 Engaging in monetary transactions in property

derived from specified unlawful activity

Both statutes essentially have the same purpose of preventing persons from legitimizing proceeds obtained illegally although there are differences. 18 U.S.C. § 1956, is concerned with any financial transaction concerning proceeds of a “specified unlawful activity”73 whenever action is focused to keep the criminal activity from being discovered, or to hide the source or current possessor of the funds, or to avoid the mandatory disclosures under the Bank Secrecy Act under Title 31 U.S.C.74 Conversely, provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 1957 is applicable if a person “…knowingly engages or attempts to engage in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000 and is derived from specified unlawful activity…”75

In United States v. Moncrief, 133 Fed.Appx. 924 (5th Cir. 2004), both of these statutes were instituted in a case which the government claimed to be “…the largest mortgage-loan-fraud operation ever to be prosecuted.”76 The case involved Meis Enterprises which was owned and operated by the Meis family.77 Mei Enterprises was a conglomeration of several businesses operated by members of the Mei family.78 Mei Enterprises operated a construction company and several real estate companies.79 Although the assortment of companies had differing bank accounts and officers in charge, Mei Enterprises “…operated out of one common office.”80

The alleged end result of the mortgage fraud scheme was to collect “…large amounts of cash by inducing mortgage lenders to provide the Meis with loans that were $50,000 to $80,000…” over what “…it cost the Meis to purchase the real estate that served as the collateral for the loan.”81 In order to obtain the loans, “…the Meis orchestrated sham real estate transactions in which the Meis would appear to sell a particular property, which…” would overlap “…with actual sales in which the Meis would purchase, for the first time, the very same property.”82 Purportedly, the Meis first would find a property for sale and “…acting through one of their realty companies such as Hathaway Properties, would contract to purchase the property from its owner.”83

Third parties or straw buyer would serve as a temporary purchaser usually Frank Mei Sr. to complete “…a parallel sham transaction that would be used to obtain an inflated loan.”84 Mortgage brokers in one of the Mei Enterprises would falsify employment and income information on loan application to lenders.85 Eventually, Moncrief, a residential real estate appraiser became involved in the Mei scheme.86 Allegedly, Moncrief used the Mei’s formula for over inflating the value of selected properties and “…was involved in more straw buyer transactions than any other appraiser that the Meis use…”87 which exposed him to the money laundering violations.88

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Any use of the previous article requires written permission from Ralph Behr and from this website and its subsidiaries under State and Federal Law. DO NOT copy and use the text provided above and/or publish as your own. The document may only be used for private study or distributing among peers in paper, not on internet transmission, with no intent to make profit or sell without credit being due to the original author.

Florida Prosecution of Mortgage Frauds by Criminal Lawyer Ralph Behr: Part 7

South Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog is proud to present the next installment of Attorney Behr's mortgage fraud prosecutions series:


18 U.S.C. §1344 Bank Fraud

Persons who knowingly executes or makes an attempt to execute a scheme or ploy to “…defraud a financial institution; or to obtain any of the moneys, funds, credits, assets, securities, or other property owned by, or under the custody or control of, a financial institution by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises…” may be convicted under this statute.65

In United States v. Walsh, 75 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 1996), the defendant was under indictment for a scheme allegedly carried out “…by directing his employees to obtain 29 specific loans through the use of deceptions so that customers could purchase condominiums from Walsh and his associates.”66 The defendant along with other investors “…purchased apartment buildings or complexes, converted the property into condominiums, and sold the condominiums to customers, using the unit sales to pay off the acquisition financing.67 The defendant also usually served as a trustee representative and legal counsel for a trust set up to acquire the buildings.68 “During 1986, sales of units in one of the projects started to fall behind schedule and the trust began to have difficulty repaying its acquisition loan.”69 The defendant subsequently discovered a bank “…made mortgage loans available rapidly-with no verification of income, assets or down payments-but the loans required a twenty percent down payment and secondary financing was prohibited.”70

Along with the first failing projects, others followed suit and the defendant instructed his employees to arrange loans “…for unit purchasers and to falsify documents submitted to…” the bank “…to conceal the existence of secondary financing (and in some cases third mortgages as well).”71 Loans were eventually defaulted on and the bank “…incurred substantial losses.”72

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Any use of the previous article requires written permission from Ralph Behr and from this website and its subsidiaries under State and Federal Law. DO NOT copy and use the text provided above and/or publish as your own. The document may only be used for private study or distributing among peers in paper, not on internet transmission, with no intent to make profit or sell without credit being due to the original author.

Florida Mortgage Fraud Criminals Running Rampant

Victor Thomas Clavizzao, 46, has been sentenced to 5 years in prison on convictions of conspiring to commit mortgage fraud. The court also ordered Clavizzao to pay $2 million in restitution and to forfeit an additional $6 million. Clavizzao had entered a guilty plea on September 23, 2009. Court documents stated that Clavizzao worked as a mortgage broker in the purchase of 13 real estate properties. He conspired to submit false and fraudulent information to a variety of lenders in the hopes of inducing the lenders to fund bad loans.Clavizzao's co-defendant, a Pinellas property flipper who procured bogus loans with Clavizzao's assistance, was sentenced earlier by a US District judge to 13 months in prison in his actions related to the conspiracy.

Mortgage fraud is a popular charge being seen in the news these days. If you are involved in such an incident, do not forgo your rights to the state. Defend your rights in court with a lawyer that knows the law and that will fight for you.

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Mortgage Fraud Criminal Gets The Book Thrown At Him

Inyang Amos was charged via a superseding indictment with 10 counts of mortgage fraud through interstate wire, one count of engaging in a monetary transaction involving criminally derived property and two counts of aggravated identity theft. He allegedly devised and executed the fraudulent scheme from 2003 through 2006 in which 15 residences were purchased and resulted in a loss totaling $400,000 to various mortgage lenders he worked with. Inyang would recruit others in order to have money lent to them by mortgage lenders and appearing to them as a person in the "real estate business." Single family homes were the primary target and promising financial terms lured in his victims. If found guilty of these charge, he faces a max of 20 years in prison on each count of mortgage fraud, 10 years for the transaction count and minimum of 2 years for each aggravated identity theft count. A Federal district court judge will be responsible for the sentencing.

A white collar offense can also lead to civil lawsuits filed by the government or the persons who were allegedly victimized by the crime. Unlike in a criminal case, the accused in a civil lawsuit does not have the right to remain silent, and they may be obligated to testify at their own trial. An attorney will not be appointed for them if they cannot afford one on their own.

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Florida Prosecution of Mortgage Frauds by Criminal Lawyer Ralph Behr: Part 4

Continuing the series on Mr. Behr's mortgage fraud prosecutions in Florida:


18 U.S.C. §1014 Loan and credit applications generally; renewals and discounts; crop insurance

Under this federal statute, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt (1) a person knowingly made any material misrepresentations (2) directly to any specific federally insured institutions in the business of extending credit (3) for the purpose of influencing the institution’s actions.29 In United States v. Dominguez, 226 F.3d 1235 (11th Cir. 2000) the defendant faced multiple counts involving participation in a cocaine distribution organization and a mortgage fraud scheme.30 The basis of Dominguez’ assumed fraudulent mortgage scheme was an overestimation of his legitimate income by about $40,000.00 on federal tax returns and mortgage loan applications submitted to federally insured banks.31

Dominguez’ argued on appeal “…the district court erred by denying his motion to sever the drug-related charges and mortgage fraud-related charges…”32 The court found his argument to be without merit because it believed the concealment of his income from the “…the drug activity was the motive for the mortgage fraud.”33 Moreover, the court included the government’s closing argument in a footnote to find the two sets of charges were properly joined.34 The government claimed the defendant was falsifying his income just enough to be believable but not enough to raise any suspicion for a person “...four years out of law school.”35

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Any use of the previous article requires written permission from Ralph Behr and from this website and its subsidiaries under State and Federal Law. DO NOT copy and use the text provided above and/or publish as your own. The document may only be used for private study or distributing among peers in paper, not on internet transmission, with no intent to make profit or sell without credit being due to the original author.

Florida Prosecution of Mortgage Frauds by Criminal Lawyer Ralph Behr: Part 3

Continuing in Attorney Behr's mortgage fraud prosecutions series:


18 U.S.C. § 1010 Department of Housing and Urban Development and Federal Housing Administration transactions

&

18 U.S.C. § 1006 Federal credit institution entries, reports and transactions

In United States v. Mclean, 131 Fed.Appx. 34 (4th Cir. 2005), Mclean was convicted under 18 U.S.C. §1010 for making material misrepresentations to “…any person, partnership, association, or corporation…” in order to obtain “…any loan or advance of credit…” with the intention of such loan or advance of credit to be “…offered to or accepted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development…” for mortgage loans insured by the department.17 The defendant was also convicted under 18 U.S.C. §1006 for material misrepresentations made to HUD and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) because he was “…an officer, agent or employee of or connected in any capacity with…” a federal credit institution.18

McLean’s mortgage company was a qualified FHA lender and “…had the authority to approve mortgage loans for federal FHA insurance. 19 “An FHA-insured mortgage loan, in turn, is ‘readily saleable’ on the secondary mortgage market.”20 McLean’s company also obtained the proper authorization to be a Fannie Mae lender giving the company the power to “…originate a mortgage loan with the borrower and then Fannie Mae would immediately buy the mortgage on the secondary market without doing its own underwriting evaluation.”21

McLean’s company formed a subsidiary company for the purpose of building modular homes which was financed by the parent mortgage company. Efforts were made to collect the proper funding for the construction of the modular homes through construction mortgage loan notes allegedly signed by investors and officers of the parent mortgage company.22 “None of the individuals signing these documents ever acquired or possessed any ownership interest in the properties listed on the notes.”23

“Eventually, Fannie Mae detected irregularities in FBMC's underwriting practices and conducted an audit of the loans it had purchased.”24 Upon visual inspection of the properties by Fannie Mae “…revealed that the many of the lots were either vacant or contained a partially completed house.”25 Furthermore, a portion of the lots secured with mortgage loans previously purchased by Fannie Mae were up for sale.26 McLean believed “…Fannie Mae would purchase construction loans, which disburse funds in piecemeal fashion as each new phase of construction begins.”27 “Fannie Mae, however, does not purchase construction loans, which FBMC was not authorized to sell.”28

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Gang-led Mortgage Fraud Ring Dissolved

Two dozen people were indicted on racketeering and other charges for allegedly conducting a wide-ranging mortgage fraud based in San Diego and led by a street gang member, according an indictment unsealed on Tuesday. The lead defendant, Darnell Bell, a documented member of the Lincoln Park street gang in Los Angeles, received at least $9 million in proceeds from the enterprise, prosecutors said. Bell's status as an active member of the Lincoln Park street gang helped him recruit straw buyers for 220 properties with a total sales price of $100 million, and later maintain discipline among them, according the indictment. "It was relevant not so much to running the (real estate) scheme but to managing (the people)," Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Acton Jones said.

Another defendant, Stanley Gentry, let the conspirators use his real estate license in exchange for a $10,000 monthly payment and a percentage of the commission and broker's fees from each purchase, prosecutors said. Defendant Billie Bishop was an escrow officer who helped with the enterprise's fraudulent purchases of more than 100 properties, prosecutors said. The defendants allegedly used straw buyers and inflated appraisals to purchase homes that had sat on the market for extended periods and had been reduced in price. They submitted offers that exceeded the homes' asking prices, and had the overage paid to a shell construction company that they claimed would make upgrades or handicap modifications to the properties, prosecutors said. The defendants instead disbursed the "kickback amount" to members and associates of the enterprise as payments for their participation, the indictment said.

Lenders later foreclosed on the properties, taking "severe financial losses," after the straw buyers failed to make payments, the indictment said.

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Florida Prosecution of Mortgage Frauds by Criminal Lawyer Ralph Behr: Part 2

Continuing the series on Mr. Behr's mortgage fraud prosecutions in Florida:


IV. STATUES

i. Federal
Defendants who find themselves within the prosecutorial jurisdiction of the federal government are not indicted under a particular mortgage fraud statute, but are prosecuted under a number of different statutes. Assistant United States Attorneys (ASA) apply one or more of the statutes to activity considered fraudulent. Usually, the wire fraud and mail fraud statutes are effectuated the most. An ASA may also use a conspiracy theory to prosecute mortgage fraud under either statute. However, specific statutes such as the wire and mail statutes themselves appear to take a backseat to the overall scheme and persons or entities defrauded by defendants.
ASA’s are specifically guided by a policy statement of when to initiate legal action which is conspicuously placed at the beginning of the Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud section of the United States Attorney Manuel. In particular the manual states:

Prosecutions of fraud ordinarily should not be undertaken if the scheme employed consists of some isolated transactions between individuals, involving minor loss to the victims, in which case the parties should be left to settle their differences by civil or criminal litigation in the state courts. Serious consideration, however, should be given to the prosecution of any scheme which in its nature is directed to defrauding a class of persons, or the general public, with a substantial pattern of conduct.
Although there is this claimed safety net of policy consideration in place and no specific mortgage fraud statutes in affect, it does not stop the federal government from vigorously prosecuting defendants under the mail, wire or other fraud statutes as exemplified below in various federal cases of what a particular ASA considers to be substantial patterns of behavior.

Continue reading "Florida Prosecution of Mortgage Frauds by Criminal Lawyer Ralph Behr: Part 2" »

South Florida Mortgage Fraud Prosecutions: Part 1

Making the first entry today, this series of continual excerpts from a legal paper written by Ralph Behr himself will delve into the court system and its prosecution of mortgage fraud in Florida. Mr. Behr took copious amounts of time and effort to research the topic and provided the following to share online to readers who have the time to read it. Enjoy.


I. INTRODUCTION

a. Why is Florida the ‘epicenter’ of Prosecutions and Investigations?

Statistically, Florida is number one for reported incidences of mortgage fraud and moreover also accounts for twenty-one percent of the overall nation wide occurrences.1 “Florida also has noticeably higher percentages than the other states in: asset and debt misrepresentation on the loan application; Verification of Employment (VOE) fraud; appraisal misrepresentation; and escrow and closing document misrepresentation.”2 The south Florida areas of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, also known as The Miami Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), rank first in reports of mortgage fraud.3 Consequently, because Florida, in particular the more populated areas of south Florida are responsible for the bulk of reported incidences, Florida has become the epicenter of mortgage fraud investigations and prosecutions.

b. Statistics on Mortgage Failures

II. MORTGAGE FRAUD DEFINED

Although there is no agreed definition mortgage fraud, it can be defined as a material misrepresentation or omission which is intended to induce a person or entity to extend credit to another person or entity. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines mortgage fraud “…as an intentional misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission by an applicant or other interested parties, relied on by a lender or underwriter to provide funding for, to purchase, or to insure a mortgage loan.”4 According to the FBI there are two different types of mortgage fraud: (1) Fraud for Profit, and (2) Fraud for Housing.5 “Fraud for Profit is sometimes referred to as Industry Insider Fraud and the motive is to revolve equity, falsely inflate the value of the property, or issue loans based on fictitious properties.”6 On the other hand, Fraud for Housing is personified by unlawful activity conducted exclusively by a borrower.7 In regards to Fraud for Profit, the FBI has even constructed a laundry list of indicators of mortgage fraud as well as various categorical patterns that may qualify as Fraud for Profit.8

Even though the FBI may only identify two (2) types of mortgage fraud, it and other regulatory agencies are charged with monitoring and focusing on the multiple indicators and categorical patterns of fraudulent mortgage transactions of Fraud for Profit.9 The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)10 puts forth the majority of their regulatory power on industry insiders who conduct Fraud for Profit operations.11 Specifically, a Financial Crimes Enforcement Network report indicates accountants, mortgage brokers, and lenders are the most likely suspects of mortgage fraud.12 These persons are considered to be “…familiar with the mortgage loan process and therefore know how to exploit vulnerabilities in the system.”13 Common designs of these targeted occupations are considered to have the potential to dramatically increase in numbers as a direct result of the downward trend in the housing market.14


Continue reading "South Florida Mortgage Fraud Prosecutions: Part 1" »

Mrs. Madoff Gets To Keep Her Crib

Ruth Madoff is under heat in regards to whether she can continue to stay at her living quarters or if she has to let the government seize them. Lawyers of Bernie Madoff are claiming that millions in assets of Bernie are in the escrow of Mrs. Madoff and thus untouchable or not relevant in a court of law.

The article, from the New York Times, goes on to say that to argue that the assets in Ms. Madoff’s name are in fact separate, it will be necessary for her to show they were acquired by untainted money. That may be difficult to prove because the records from Mr. Madoff’s investment advisory business do not appear to be very clear. If the government is able to show the brokerage operation was supported by the Ponzi scheme, then money taken from that business may not be immune to forfeiture.

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ACORN Foreclosure Squad Arrest Made

Louis Beverly, an ACORN activist, faces charges of fourth-degree burglary, a first in the realm of the foreclosure market. The activist, a part of ACORN (the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now) is facing these criminal charges in response to the breaking and entering of a home in southeast Baltimore a few weeks ago. "This is our house now," ACORN member Louis Beverly reportedly said after cutting a lock with bolt cutters at the home. A spokesperson at the Pittsburgh Police said charges would be filed in response to any person found living in a foreclosed home even if that person has lived at the residence previously or not.

ACORN launched its "Home Savers" campaign in New York earlier this month and plans to expand the program to at least 22 other cities and three counties nationwide in the coming weeks. Participants like Beverly say they will refuse to move out of foreclosed homes or reclaim properties altogether until a comprehensive federal housing plan takes affect. At least 500 volunteers have reportedly agreed to work as "home defenders" to employ non-violent tactics to block authorities from evicting homeowners. Orlando, Florida, is one of the other cities being targeted by "Home Savers" participants.

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South Florida White Collar Crimes

With the economy tanking, those who took advantage of the situation are now feeling the heat. Anthony Dehaney, 57, was sentenced to 8 years in prison for concocting a $12 million mortgage fraud scheme that helped slide the Florida market and economy further downward than it already was. He pled guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud and bankruptcy fraud.

The criminal proceedings for the Jamaican national were in order and final in verdict. The defendant stated during trial that he started in 2002 by investing in real estate. Egged on by other mortgage professionals, he let the details slide on loan applications. Dehaney admitted to fudging mortgage loan applications on no less than 20 properties in Broward county from Jan 03 to Aug 06. Some lofty properties noted in the report were that of 3 different properties on 26th Street located in Wilton Manors and a Coral Springs home valued at $1.4 million.

US District Judge William Dimitrouleas viewed the sentencing as a "signal to others tempted to skirt the law 'to make a quick easy buck' ." Dehaney's actions were only a drop in the pool of what has caused banks to lose millions.

This particular case has also been noted as one of the most severe in sentencing of any mortgage fraud case, even going over the prosecutor's recommendation of a 5 year prison term.

The sentence--among the toughest to date in a mortgage fraud case--exceeds a prosecutor's recommendation for a roughly five-year prison term. "As real estate prices escalated, things were moving so fast no one realized what they were doing," he said. "Everyone was trying to make money."

Continue reading "South Florida White Collar Crimes" »

MORTGAGE FRAUD PROSECUTIONS IN FLORIDA

Florida Federal Criminal Cases: Mortgage Fraud

The US Attorney for the Middle District of Florida convicted and sentenced Brian Albritton to tens years for mortgage fraud.

The allegations are that staring in 2004 he participated in a mortgage rescue operation for homeowners at risk of foreclosure. The allegations are a scheme to defraud through straw man transfers.

In South Florida the US Attorney and Fort Lauderdale (Broward) and Miami prosecutors are building mortgage fraud cases. South Florida criminal attorneys are learning how to defend these cases.

If you have been arrested or are under investigation seek an experienced South Florida criminal defense attorney for a consultation. Information is the best way to protect yourself. An experienced South Florida criminal attorney can advise you on mortgage fraud prosecutions and how they are handled by prosecutors in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach.

Mortgage Fraud Arrests in Miami

The US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach) arrested Magile Cruz. Cruz is alleged to have participated in $24,000,000 of allegedly fraudulent mortgages.
There has been a lot of political pressure on prosecutors in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach to arrest and prosecute mortgage brokers.
The Law Offices of Ralph Behr has defended mortgage brokers and realtors as far back as the 1980's when there was a rush to prosecute. Many innocents went to prison, and it is happening again.
If you need a criminal defense attorney in Broward, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, contact attorney Behr.
The press release from the US Attorney is available for viewing. Attorney Behr's credentials appear on his website. Call now the phones are answered 24/7.


FLORIDA MORTGAGE FRAUD ARRESTS

Miami has a Mortgage Fraud taskforce working overtime to grab headlines but many criminal defense lawyers in Broward and Fort Lauderdale view the arrests as a public relations ploy.

Alleging fraud, racketeering, grand theft and money laundering in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, the Miami police arrested 14 mortgage brokers and real estate professionals.

Criminal defense lawyers in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and South Florida are lining up to find new clients and at the same time scrambling to learn how to defend these white collar crimes.

Attorney Ralph Behr of Fort Lauderdale represented mortgage brokers charged with fraud and grand theft during the real estate collapse of the early 90’s. His office has added additional court qualified experts to his defense team of real estate fraud professionals.

If you have been charged or have concerns you may be a target of the criminal investigation in Florida call for a consultation or have your attorney contact our office for a defense review.

UNDERSTANDING MORTGAGE FRAUD CRIMES

Mortgage Fraud Defense

Obtaining money or property by any fraudulent means, device or scheme, is the underlying criminal act for prosecutions of mortgage fraud or bank fraud.

Providing false information, fraudulent documents, and material misrepresentations of income or assets to obtain bank financing can be prosecuted as a grand theft, forged or fraudulent document charge, bank fraud, wire fraud, or the newly minted crime of mortgage fraud.

These charges originate both in state courts and federal courts. Mortgage fraud as a crime category can be prosecuted under a multiple of criminal theories. Federal prosecutors often frame these cases as a wire fraud offenses. Wire fraud is the use of interstate electronic communication systems to perpetrate or advance a criminal enterprise in which a material misrepresentation is made for fraudulent financial or criminal solicitations.

In state courts prosecutors often move these cases under a more varied scheme of criminal charges. The complexity of the undertaking by fraud can be determinative of the criminal prosecution. Often a charge of theft is easier to prosecute than a scheme to defraud. In state courts local prosecutors have a higher comfort level when charging fraud, scheme to defraud, and theft charges.

In federal prosecutions, because of the broader scope of federal criminal statutes bank fraud and wire fraud on a more commonly charged.

Because of the complexity of these cases and the documents which are presented in any mortgage application, mortgage fraud cases are often considered white collar crimes. This complexity often leads to a confusion in the minds of both prosecutors and jurors. Mortgage fraud cases are won and lost in courtrooms because lawyers cannot clearly state their case. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys skilled in the art of trial preparation focus on communicating to the jury in simple terms.

During the years of 2005 through including 2007 rising real estate sales and prices precipitated a significant increase in a mortgage fraud cases. In the year 2008 the cities and jurisdictions in South Florida, led by Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach witnessed the largest increase in mortgage fraud prosecutions. In the first six months of 2008 the city of Miami saw over 50 mortgage brokers and real estate professionals arrested and prosecuted under the varied criminal theories of theft, fraud, and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud and grand theft.

MORE MORTGAGE BROKERS ARRESTED IN MIAMI, FLORIDA

THE POLITICS OF PROSECUTION MIAMI STYLE

Fort Lauderdale and Miami criminal courts will soon be flooded with grand theft and mortgage fraud trials.

Announcing that another 30 real estate professionals have been arrested the Mayor of Miami told reporters a total of 50 have been charaged with grand theft, fraud, mortgage fraud, forged or fraudulent documents, forgery and RICO charges.

South Florida ranks first in the US for mortgage fraud arrests.


OPEN SEASON ON REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS

FORT LAUDERDALE AND MIAMI LEADS U.S. IN MORTGAGE BROKER ARRESTS

Leading a list of cities that features Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Miami, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida has, in the first half of 2008, arrested and charged a record number of mortgage brokers and real estate professionals.

Grant theft, wire fraud, money laundering, forged or altered documents and false fraudulent or altered appraisals lead the list of charges.

RICO and organized fraud and organized schemes to defraud in Florida can lead to prison terms of 15 to thirty years.

To date in Fort Lauderdale and Miami the Statewide Prosecutor’s office are neck-and-neck with the US Attorney in arrests.

Not surprisingly, criminal lawyers in South Florida have begun to focus their firms’ marketing to draw-in recently arrested mortgage brokers. Those new to these cases are increasingly turning to established criminal lawyers to help them once they have been retained.

Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Ralph Behr has issued a third in a series of guides to local criminal attorneys who take on these cases. If you have been arrested have your criminal attorney contact Ralph Behr for the current guide on defending mortgage broker fraud charges.

THEFT, WIRE FRAUD AND THE NEW COTTAGE INDUSTRY OF ARRESTING MORTGAGE BROKERS IN FLORIDA

Criminal defense attorneys in Florida increasingly are speaking out against the politically targeted and politically motivated prosecutions mounted by the US attorney in South Florida.

Fort Lauderdale and Miami have seen arrests of local real estate professionals by the federal prosecutor in the Southern District of Florida explode in numbers and scope.

These arrests reflect the fact that Fort Lauderdale Broward County and Miami have witnessed the greatest increase and greatest fall in real estate values.

The political fallout is very real. The headlines made big news. Those arrested for fraud and theft are increasingly facing harsh sentences.

Defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale Miami in Palm Beach see these arrests as a new cottage industry for South Florida prosecutors.

Fort Lauderdale Federal Judge Sentences Mortgage Broker to Six Years

Local criminal lawyer Ralph Behr represents several mortgage brokers accused of fraud and related crimes in South Florida, Miami and Fort Lauderale. But not the one sentenced by a local Federal Judge. Sadly Mr. Villaba, who pled guilty, was sentenced to six years and a heavy send off from the local federal prosecutor.

Fraud, wire fraud, theft, conspiracy and various bank fraud statutes are the prosecutors tools for prosecuting mortgage fraud cases. The defenses are manifold and quite complex, so most of these cases should go to trial where a jury can weigh the legal complexities.

The federal prosecutors and statewide prosecutors in South Florida are in the process of filing additional cases. Be on the lookout for more news.

South Florida criminal defense attorney Ralph Behr has issued a press release outlining the defenses and defense methods: local South Florida criminal lawyers can obtain a copy from attorney Behr's law office in Fort Lauderdale.

Mortgage Brokers Targeted in Florida

MORTGAGE BROKERS FACE FLORIDA CRIMINAL CHARGES

Criminal attorney Ralph Behr, is representing or has been retained to counsel and advise other local criminal lawyers for over ten clients being prosecuted under the new statewide and federal task forces targeting mortgage brokers.

Criminal lawyers throughout Florida have seen a marked increase in arrests of mortgage brokers in the major cities of Fort Lauderdale, Miami and West Palm Beach.

Over 400 arrests have been made nationwide in what is now regarded as the first in a wave of prosecutions aimed at mortgage brokers and providers.

South Florida has been in the news because of falling real estate prices and rising mortgage defaults.

The prosecutions have been under theft and wire fraud criminal statutes and are both federal and state. Mortgage related crimes such as fraud are prosecuted as misstatement, misrepresentation, or omissions by an underwriter or lender.

In a press release to Florida newspapers, criminal attorney Ralph Behr announced his commitment to the fight to defend those charged with mortgage fraud.