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2012 DBPR The Feds vs. Floridas Real Estate Professionals Presented By: Edward J. Page, Esq. Florida Bar Board Certified in Criminal Law Carlton Fields,

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Presentation on theme: "2012 DBPR The Feds vs. Floridas Real Estate Professionals Presented By: Edward J. Page, Esq. Florida Bar Board Certified in Criminal Law Carlton Fields,"— Presentation transcript:

1 2012 DBPR The Feds vs. Floridas Real Estate Professionals Presented By: Edward J. Page, Esq. Florida Bar Board Certified in Criminal Law Carlton Fields, P.A W. Boy Scout Blvd., Suite 1000 Tampa, FL Tele: Atlanta Miami New York Orlando St. Petersburg Tallahassee Tampa West Palm Beach

2 CASE STUDIES

3 The Federal Government has the Waterfront Covered FEDS AHEAD

4 Well, there is and there are plenty: 1.Mail fraud 2. Wire fraud 3. Conspiracy 4. Money Laundering 5. Bribery 6. Obstruction of justice 7. False statement 8. Witness tampering 9. Bank fraud 10. Hundreds of other federal and state criminal laws HAVE YOU EVER SAID

5 APPRAISER Prison Time for Mortgage Fraud Appraiser Who Stonewalled Federal Investigators Mark E. Greenlee, a former West Virginia licensed real estate appraiser, was sentenced on August 21, 2012 to one year and six months in federal prison for aiding and abetting wire fraud. Greenlee previously pleaded guilty admitting that he prepared a false and fraudulent appraisal in 2006 in furtherance of a multi-million-dollar mortgage fraud scheme in Hurricane, WV.

6 ATTORNEYS Orlando Attorneys Plead Guilty In Mortgage Fraud Scheme On September 4, 2012, two Orlando attorneys, Daniel N. Hoskins and Alexander Zouzoulas, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. Both conspired with individuals involved in the development of 3 condominium conversion projects to artificially inflate the sales prices of the condo units through the use of nominee purchasers (straw buyers) who obtained home loans on the units they had no intention of purchasing.

7 HOME INSPECTOR Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Engaging in Fraud Related to Inspection of Foreclosed Properties Tampa, Florida - September 14, 2012, Dean Counce pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. Counces company performed preservation and inspection work for homes in various phases of foreclosure, including homes owned by government entities (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA). The government paid servicing lenders to protect and maintain their properties. Counce and other employees of his company fabricated inspection reports. One lender paid Counces company over $19 million for inspections, a large percentage of which were never performed.

8 REALTOR Lehigh Acres Realtor Pleads Guilty to Fraud (facing up to 30 years in federal prison for each offense) June 20, 2012 – Barbara Diaz pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 9 counts of wire fraud. Diaz conspired with others to defraud mortgage lenders by way of making false statements in HUD-1 settlement statements. In part, Diaz led lenders to believe that buyers made down payments at closing, when in fact, the buyers made no down payment and were paid money outside of closing for buying the home.

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10 TITLE AGENCY OWNER Former Jacksonville Title Agency Owner Sentenced to 18 Months in Federal Prison for Mortgage Fraud Scheme On July 25, 2012, Cynthia Strickland was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for bank fraud related to a mortgage fraud scheme. Strickland was recruited by Juan Gonzalez, the orchestrator of the mortgage fraud scheme, as the closing agent. On at least one occasion, Strickland knowingly misrepresented the purchase price of the property and falsified the settlement statement.

11 Any money from most federal crimes is dirty and doing anything with that money is money laundering! $ MY MORTGAGE $ FRAUD FUNDS

12 LOAN OFFICER Loan Officer Sentenced to 54 Months in Federal Prison for Role in Mortgage Fraud Scheme that Resulted in More Than $9.2 Million in Losses June 25, 2012 – Alejandro Curbelo was employed as a loan officer. In his role as a loan officer, Curbelo assisted in sales and financing of condo units at 2 Florida complexes. The borrowers Curbelo assisted were unqualified to obtain mortgage loans due to insufficient income, high levels of debts and outstanding collections. Curbelo admitted to conspiring with others to create and submit false FHA mortgage loan applications and accompanying documents to the lender on behalf of the unqualified buyers.

13 MORTGAGE BROKER Principal at Local Mortgage Brokerage Firm Sentenced September 4, 2012 – Francis Reeder, vice-president of Mortgage Doctors, Inc. was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison for conspiring to commit mortgage fraud. Reeder and his co- conspirators falsified loan documents, including falsified employment, income, funds for closing, disclosure of other properties, and occupancy. Most of the properties have been foreclosed upon, with the total losses amounting to more than $5 million.

14 THERE ARE DOZENS OF OBLIGATIONS THAT STATE LAW PLACES ON REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS 1.FS ESCROW ACCOUNTS 3. CONTRACTS AND CLOSINGS PROSECUTORS CAN USE VIOLATIONS OF 475 TO BUILD THEIR CASES AGAINST REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS. INDICTMENT CAN CITE TO A 475 VIOLATION AS PART OF THE REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS SCHEME TO DEFRAUD FS (1)(H) – SHARED A COMMISSION WITH OR PAID A FEE TO ANOTHER NOT PROPERLY LICENSED.

15 WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK I HAVE A PROBLEM? 1.CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY. 2.CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY. 3.CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY. OTHERS INVOLVED MAY ALREADY BE CONSULTING WITH THEIR LAWYER AND RUSHING TO TELL ALL TO THE FBI AND PROSECUTOR RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO DELETE S, TEXT MESSAGES, AND THE LIKE. ITS NOT WHAT YOU DO, ITS WHAT YOU DO NEXT!

16 First BP Indictment Sets The Stage For A Fight Over Just How Much Oil Was Spilled Today the U.S. Department of Justice filed its first indictment in connection with BPs Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Kurt E. Mix, a drilling engineer with BP was charged with two counts of obstructing justice for deleting text messages on his iPhone. In a complaint filed in the Eastern District of Louisiana, the government alleges that Mix deleted hundreds of text messages pertaining to his work on capping the run-away Macondo well.

17 Have you ever heard the phrase, I am going to sing like a bird? Well, the folk involved in these questionable real state practices sing like birds when the feds start asking questions.

18 WIRE FRAUD Its a federal crime to use interstate wire, radio, or television communications to carry out a scheme to defraud someone else.

19 CONSPIRACY Its a federal crime to conspire or agree with someone else to do something that would be another federal crime if it were actually carried out.

20 MAIL FRAUD … AND THEN SHE TURNED IN ALL MY OLD LOVE LETTERS AND THEY GOT ME FOR MAIL FRUAD.

21 SO WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW? 1.YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT – ANYTHING YOU SAY WILL BE MISQUOTED AND THEN USED AGAINST YOU. 2.IF YOU INSIST ON TALKING WITHOUT A LAWYER TO THE GOVERNMENT, MAKE SURE WHAT YOU SAY IS (A) 100% THE TRUTH, AND (B) NOT MISLEADING 3.WHEN IN DOUBT, DONT.

22 WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM IN THE BEGINNING, MIDDLE, OR END OF ONE OF THE CASE STUDY SCENARIOS DESCRIBED? 1. STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND CONSULT AN ATTORNEY 2.THERE IS A DEFENSE IN FEDERAL CRIMINAL LAW CALLED GOOD FAITH RELIANCE UPON ADVICE OF COUNSEL 3. HERE IS THE LAW ON THIS DEFENSE:

23 4. GOOD-FAITH DEFENSE - Good faith is a complete defense to a charge that requires intent to defraud. A defendant isnt required to prove good faith. The Government must prove intent to defraud beyond a reasonable doubt. An honestly held opinion or an honestly formed belief cannot be fraudulent intent-even if the opinion or belief is mistaken. Similarly, evidence or a mistake in judgment, an error in management, or carelessness cant establish fraudulent intent. But an honest belief that a business venture would ultimately succeed doesnt constitute good faith if the Defendant intended to deceive others by making representations the Defendant knew to be false or fraudulent.

24 THE SERGEANT SCHULTZ DEFENSE (I KNOW NOTHINK!) 1. WILFUL BLINDNESS OR DELIBERATE IGNORANCE 2. ITS NOT A DEFENSE IF YOU TOOK STEPS TO AVOID KNOWING CERTAIN FACTS AND INFORMATION

25 Lesson One: Its not what you do, its what you do next that might get you in trouble in federal criminal law

26 Lesson Two: When in doubt, dont

27 Lesson Three: False Statements and obstruction charges are often brought when the government cant prove the underlying charge that triggered the investigation

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29 Presented By: Edward J. Page, Esq. Florida Bar Board Certified in Criminal Law Carlton Fields, P.A W. Boy Scout Blvd., Suite 1000 Tampa, FL Tele: THE END


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