Home Miami Press Releases 2009 Palm Beach County Mortgage Fraud Task Force Brings Charges Against 15 Defendants for Lying to Banks to Get Money...
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Palm Beach County Mortgage Fraud Task Force Brings Charges Against 15 Defendants for Lying to Banks to Get Money

U.S. Attorney’s Office October 13, 2009
  • Southern District of Florida (305) 961-9001

Jeffrey H. Sloman, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, and J. Thomas Cardwell, Commissioner, State of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulations, announce fraud charges against fifteen defendants as a result of four separate investigations led by the Palm Beach County Mortgage Fraud Task Force In total, the fraudulent loans resulted in more than $20 million in losses to banks and title insurance companies. These charges are the result of the investigative efforts carried out by a multi-agency task force conducted during the past year.

(1) Eight Defendants Charged in $8.5 Million Dollar Mortgage Fraud Ring

According to a fifteen count indictment returned by a federal grand jury sitting in West Palm Beach, eight individuals were involved in making false statements to banks to obtain mortgage money to purchase five pieces of property in the Versailles subdivision of Wellington, Florida, between January 2007 and October 2007. The defendants include licensed mortgage brokers, title agents, and straw buyers.

Charged by either indictment or information are the following people: Rony Alberto Aguilar-Hecker, 33, of Miami,; Reinaldo Perez-Sanchez, 44, of Miami and Colombia; Pablo Atouro Aponte-Torres, 44, of San Juan, Puerto Rico; Fabio Salazar, 54, of Miami and Colombia; Roger Omar Nunez-Murillo, 60, of Miami Beach; Idalmis C. Arias, 27, of Miami Beach; Ericson Perez, 42, of Cumming, Georgia; and Juan Carlos Lopez, 42, of Miami.

The indictment and informations allege that the defendants and straw buyers engaged in a scheme which resulted in property being sold twice in one day and nearly doubling the value of that property during that one day. The defendants found property which was ostensibly sold to a straw buyer at the price listed to the public for sale through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). These straw buyers brought no money to the closings, became the owners of the properties for less than 24 hours after which they transferred the titles to second purchasers. For these efforts the straw buyers were paid approximately $10,000.

A second closing occurred in each instance and the properties were “sold” by the straw buyers to the second purchaser for values which increase the properties prices by as much as 60%. The second purchasers obtained mortgages by making false claims as to their income, assets and liabilities on applications to obtain mortgage money from Washington Mutual Bank and that money was used, in part, to pay off the original sellers of the properties. At the conclusion of these second sales, the second purchasers were paid as much as $437,000 from the mortgage money for their efforts and some of the defendants received as much as $155,000 for each property involved.

Mortgage payments on the properties in this scheme were made for less than a year to Washington Mutual Bank and in some instances were abandoned, which caused the bank to move to foreclose on the property and take ownership of the homes. The result was that the bank lost much of the mortgage money by the actions of these defendants. A total of more than $8.5 million in mortgage money was obtained from Washington Mutual Bank through this conspiracy and scheme to defraud.

(2) Four Charged with Recruiting College Students and Military Personnel to Apply for False Loans

According to an indictment returned by a federal grand jury sitting in West Palm Beach, between April 2006 and April 2007, four individuals were involved in recruiting college students and military personnel to make false statements on mortgage loan applications and creating false documents supporting those applications to obtain more than $1.7 million in mortgages for five real estate transactions.

Charged by the indictment are the following people: Allen J. Gingrich, 29, of Atlanta, Georgia; Stephen Mark Lecorgne, 29, of Palm Beach Gardens; Brian Ernest Oelbermann, 28, of West Palm Beach; and Donte Deshaun White a/k/a Donte Cox, 30, of Atlanta, Georgia.
According to the indictment, Gingrich and Cox were the principals of Focus International Equity Partners, LLC, which they touted as a real estate investment and management company. The company was run out of a townhouse in Atlanta, Georgia. Gingrich and Cox solicited college students and young soldiers through Focus International, in the Atlanta area, to obtain mortgage loans on various properties, many of which were in South Florida. The information submitted on the loan applications was false. Gingrich and Cox used Warshaw Capital, LLC, a mortgage brokerage firm in Palm Beach County, to facilitate obtaining all of the fraudulent loans because Brian Olberman and Steven Marks LeCorgne, two of the loan originators at Warshaw Capital, agreed to participate in the scheme.

(3) West Palm Beach Residents Charged with Looting Title Company’s Escrow Account

According to an indictment returned by a federal grand jury sitting in West Palm Beach, between July 2005 and May 2008, Roger C. Gamblin, 61, and Peggy L. Gamblin, 53, both of Royal Palm Beach, Florida, defrauded companies and individuals out of approximately $10 million.

According to the indictment, the husband and wife owners and operators of Flagler Title Company teamed up to steal money from the escrow account for Flagler Title Company to cover company operating expenses and personal expenses. The fraud was committed by promising the Title Insurance Companies they represented and various companies and individuals with outstanding real estate transactions that money in the Flagler Title Company escrow accounts would be used solely in connection with real estate transactions and their fees would not be disbursed until the transactions occurred and Flagler had earned their fee. Instead, the Gamblins caused money to be transferred without completing the transactions or obtaining permission from the Title Insurers, buyers, sellers and mortgagees involved in the property transactions.

(4) Coral Springs Resident Charged with Obtaining False Business Loans
According to an information filed by the United States Attorney, Michelle Fletcher, 33, of Coral Springs, Florida, obtained business loans from four banks based upon loan applications which contained false statements. Ms. Fletcher is charged with three counts of committing fraud on a financial institution. The information alleges that Ms. Fletcher obtained loans from National City Bank, Regions Bank and Peninsula Bank for a business which she falsely claimed to own for two or more years, to be engaged in consulting, and to have gross receipts of more than $1.3 million during the year prior to the applications for the loans. The information goes on to allege that loans totaling $400,000 were sought and based on the false information provided to the banks, loans in the amount of $200,000 were approved.

Defendants charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and substantive wire fraud can face up to 30 years incarceration and a $1 million fine for each count along with restitution.
“Through hard work and coordination with our law enforcement partners, the United States Attorney’s Office will continue to prosecute those who commit bank and mortgage fraud,” said Jeffrey H. Sloman, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, Secret Service and the State of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ellen Cohen and Carolyn Bell.

Charges in a Complaint, Indictment or Information are merely accusations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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