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U.S. Prosecutors Crack Down on HUD Fraud


More than a dozen people have been charged recently for their roles in attempts to defraud the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The defendants are responsible for defrauding the agency of about $8 million, U.S. Atty. Debra W. Yang said.

In many cases, they allegedly profited from commissions for preparing home loans that were later determined to have been fraudulent. HUD suffered financial losses and the buyers' credit was damaged, authorities said.

The crackdown "is part of our ongoing effort to protect several important programs designed to assist low- and moderate-income families," said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.

"Unfortunately, where there are large pools of money in government programs, there are small numbers of people who try to exploit those programs for their own benefit," he said.

Charged Monday in separate wire fraud cases were Fernando Garcia, 43, of Rowland Heights and Reynalda Gonzalez, 44, of Mira Loma. Matthew Dunne, 33, of Alhambra, who allegedly submitted loan applications to HUD that included false W-2 forms and certifications, was also charged Monday, Yang said. A fourth defendant, John Campos, 47, of Walnut, has admitted to acting as a notary and falsely attesting that borrowers personally appeared before him to sign $500,000 worth of fraudulent loan applications, Yang said.

Authorities have moved against other groups in the last month, including:

* Tony Chisum Jr. and Terry Lee Rhodes, charged Sept. 26 with conspiracy, making false statements, submitting false claims and theft of government property.

Chisum, 66, of Los Angeles, was president of the American Philanthropy Assn., which operates homeless shelters, according to federal prosecutors. Rhodes, 46, a transient who is a fugitive, was an employee of the association.

The indictment charges that at Chisum's direction, Rhodes created phony attendance logs showing that certain individuals, who in fact did not exist, had received shelter.

* Jesse Olivas, 40, of Commerce, charged Sept. 26 with causing HUD to lose more than $300,000 in a wire fraud scheme involving insurance on fraudulent mortgage loans.

* Joe Zamorano, 70; his son, Mario Zamorano, 38; and Patricia A. Lopez, 55, each charged with buying HUD properties for resale to "straw" buyers in a scheme allegedly involving fraudulent documents.

* Ali Ghomizadeh, Massoud Ghomizadeh and Behrooz Katirai, charged Sept. 11 with posing as real estate brokers to buy 46 HUD properties, collecting $50,000 in broker commissions.

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