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Mortgage fraud suspect arrested

February 12, 2009|Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — A suspect in a nationwide mortgage fraud scheme who fled the country was caught at the Canadian border with $1 million in Swiss bank certificates and $70,000 stuffed in his cowboy boots, authorities said Wednesday.

Christopher J. Warren, 27, also was carrying 4 ounces of platinum valued at $1,420 an ounce when he was arrested early Wednesday while entering the United States at Buffalo, N.Y.

After he disappeared Feb. 3, Warren was charged with conspiracy, fraud and conducting a continuing financial crime. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

Warren is the second of three fugitives to be caught in the ongoing fraud investigation of Loomis Wealth Solutions, a Roseville, Calif., investment company, and several related companies.

Court documents alleged they defrauded investors and mortgage companies of $100 million since 2006. The fraudulent deals involved 500 homes and condominiums in California, Florida, Nevada, Illinois, Colorado and Arizona, according to Internal Revenue Service affidavits.

Warren flew to Ireland on Feb. 3 on a chartered private jet, then traveled to Lebanon and Canada, acting U.S. Atty. Lawrence Brown said. Immigration officials were on the lookout for him when he took a taxi from Toronto to the border at Buffalo.

Brown said Warren was carrying two fake passports with an alias, and authorities previously said he had obtained a passport with another name and indicated that he planned to go to Mexico.

Warren is expected to make an initial court appearance in New York on Wednesday, Brown said. Don Heller, Warren's lawyer, was not immediately available for comment.

On Tuesday, authorities announced that a second suspect in the case, Garret Griffith Gililland III, 27, of Chico, Calif., had been apprehended in Spain in October. He is fighting extradition to the U.S.

Authorities are still looking for Scott Cavell, 25, of Sacramento, who they said fled the country a day after Warren left.

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