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Former Broker Gets Prison for Swindling Woman Out of Home

Crime: Associate gets probation for fraud in reverse-mortgage scam on $1-million house.

June 18, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

A former Woodland Hills mortgage broker was sentenced to a year in federal prison Monday for swindling a Malibu woman out of title to her $1-million home.

Edward Rostami, 39, also was ordered to pay $482,000 in restitution to Eleanor Coppola and China Trust Bank.

Sharon Palmer-Ross, 41, a former associate, was sentenced to three years' probation, including four months of home detention.

Prosecutors said Rostami and Palmer-Ross persuaded Coppola to deed over her property in order to participate in a "vested income program" that would pay her a monthly income but return the property to her, free and clear, any time she wanted.

Rostami and Palmer-Ross altered the deed, describing the property as a "bona fide gift" when they pledged it as security for a loan, prosecutors said.

When Coppola sought to reclaim title to the property, they refused. She eventually recovered it through civil litigation.

Rostami pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiracy, while Palmer-Ross entered a guilty plea to mail fraud.

The two recently completed state prison sentences for swindling an elderly Santa Clara homeowner out of $742,000 in another reverse-mortgage scam.

Rostami and Palmer-Ross brokered loans through several business entities, including TriStar Mortgage, Polo Financial Services and KISS International. In civil suits and complaints to state regulators, they were accused of cheating numerous loan clients and lenders through bait-and-switch tactics and outright forgeries.

After being charged in the Santa Clara case, they fled to Mexico. Palmer-Ross was later arrested while trying to reenter the country with three Mexican nationals in the trunk of her car. Rostami was apprehended in Rosarito Beach, Mexico.

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