Two Members of WideRanging Mortgage Fraud Conspiracy Sentenced in Virginia
Lourdes Rojas Almanza, 28, of Falls Church, Va ., was sentenced today to 77 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for her role in a multi-million-dollar mortgage fraud conspiracy. Almanza was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $9,718,749.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Colonel David Rohrer, Fairfax County Chief of Police; and Shawn Henry, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee. Almanza pled guilty on Dec. 17, 2009.
According to court documents, Almanza, a loan officer, was part of a wide-ranging mortgage fraud conspiracy, in which she and others recruited straw buyers with good credit to purchase properties for other individuals. As a loan officer, Almanza prepared fraudulent mortgage loan applications in the straw buyers’ names. The straw buyers signed the fraudulent loan applications in order to obtain much larger loans than they were qualified to receive; the loan applications misstated, among other things, the straw buyers’ income, assets, employment, citizenship status, and intent to live in the property. Almanza also obtained fake bank statements, pay stubs, and W-2’s to corroborate the false statements in the loan applications.
During the course of the conspiracy, Almanza and her co-conspirators engaged in more than 30 fraudulent property transactions in the Eastern District of Virginia and obtained over $24 million in mortgage loans to purchase the properties. The straw buyers defaulted on the bulk of the fraudulent loans and the properties either went into foreclosure or were short-sold for sizeable losses. As a result, more than 20 banks and lenders suffered losses in excess of $9 million. Almanza was directly involved in fraudulent transactions that yielded over $2.5 million in loss.
Almanza was initially scheduled to be sentenced on April 30, 2010, but the sentencing was continued after she attempted to flee the country on April 27, 2010. Almanza used her sister’s passport and booked a flight from Reagan National Airport to Bolivia, with a layover in Miami. The FBI, with the assistance of the Fairfax County Police Department, located and arrested Almanza when her flight landed in Miami.
Litcia Linares, 33, of Falls Church, Va ., was also sentenced today to 27 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for her role as a real estate agent in the conspiracy. Linares was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $7,509,849. Linares pled guilty on Jan. 8, 2010. Linares was married to co-defendant Grovert Rojas during the time she was involved in the conspiracy. Linares collected several commission checks for work that she and her then-husband did as real estate agents on the fraudulent straw buyer transactions.
Almanza’s brother, Ruben Rojas, pled guilty on Dec. 22, 2009, for his role as a realtor in the conspiracy. Rojas was sentenced on May 7, 2010 to 60 months in prison. Ten straw buyers have also been charged for their involvement in the conspiracy. One of the straw buyers, Juan De La Cruz Aguayo, pled guilty on March 18, 2010. Aguayo is scheduled for sentencing on June 11, 2010.
This case was investigated by the Fairfax County and Miami-Dade County Police Departments and FBI’s Washington Field Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Charles Connolly and Marla Tusk prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.