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13 Charged With Home Loan Fraud

U.S. attorney's office says the government lost at least $12 million on the mortgages.

June 26, 2003|Bonnie Harris | Times Staff Writer

Thirteen Southern California residents have been charged with obtaining more than $24 million in fraudulent home loans insured by the federal government that resulted in at least $12 million in losses, the U.S. attorney's office said Wednesday.

Five of the defendants, who operated as a group, have pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges for helping unqualified buyers get federally guaranteed home loans that were set aside for low-income applicants.

The group purchased false employment documents, including W-2 forms and paycheck stubs, to help bolster borrowers' profiles so they would qualify for loans insured by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, prosecutors said.

HUD insures the loans of buyers who otherwise might not get a mortgage from a traditional lender. The loans typically require a down payment of 3% of a home's purchase price.

The documents in the alleged scam, in which the government lost $3.6 million, were purchased from Maggie Cuevas, a 52-year-old Rancho Cucamonga insurance broker who last year pleaded guilty to fraud charges related to HUD-insured loans, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman in the U.S. attorney's office.

Pleading guilty were Ruth Chacon, 33, of Perris; Sandra Armador Duran, 29, of Whittier; Marcelo Giglio, 34, of Costa Mesa; Edgar Rivas, 27, of La Puente; and Elias Zepeda, 46, of San Gabriel.

Five other defendants pleaded guilty to fraud charges that involved falsifying documents for Federal Housing Administration loans, making down payments for unqualified buyers and submitting loan applications for nonexistent buyers by creating fake Social Security cards.

Edwin Billones, a 36-year-old Whittier real estate agent, was charged with wire fraud in connection with falsified loan applications. He caused the government to lose $3.9 million, according to a complaint.

Charged in separate cases were Morteza Eghbal, 38, and Marilyn Trujillo, 39, both of Alta Loma; Federico Hernandez, 33, of Hacienda Heights; and Richard Saxton, 58, of Victorville.

Eghbal and Trujillo were charged with conspiracy and making false statements on applications that funded $5.5 million worth of loans. The government lost more than $2 million on those transactions, according to the complaint.

Three others were charged with participating in the alleged scheme run by Eghbal and Trujillo. They are: Art Tapia, 39, of Canyon Lake, who worked as a loan officer at CTX Mortgage; and Arthur Aranda, 56, and Virginia Montenegro, 57, both of San Bernardino. Aranda and Montenegro were unlicensed real estate agents.

Each charge of conspiracy, wire fraud and making false statements carries a sentence of up to five years in federal prison, Mrozek said.

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