Between 2007 and 2008, in the heady days just before the last housing market collapse, 16 South Floridians executed an elaborate fraud involving two condominium developments on the other side of the state in Largo and Tampa.
Their vertically integrated mortgage fraud conned Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-insured lenders to provide loans to unqualified buyers through a complex web of kickbacks.
Prosecutors charged 15 Miami-Dade residents, Pompano Beach resident Yipsy Rabelo Clavelo and Carlos Mesa Jr. of St. Petersburg in a scheme involving two condominium projects on Florida’s west coast—Bayshore Landing in Tampa and the Portofino at Largo or Indian Palms. Their 17-count indictment included conspiracy to commit bank fraud and other substantive bank fraud offenses, according to an announcement Thursday by Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
Prosecutors say Miami residents Miguel Soto Jr. and Hector Raul Santana were principals in two companies, Indian Palms Holdings LLC and 5221 Bayshore LLC, that sold the condos to unqualified buyers.
Alleged co-conspirators Miguel Faraldo, Jenny Nillo, Jorge Angel Sola and Heberto Elias Gamboa operated sham marketing companies used to launder loan proceeds. Businesses named in the indictment include All Florida Marketing Inc., One Stop Consulting Solutions Inc. and HHWC Management Group Inc.
Soto, Santana, Faraldo, Nillo, Barbara E. Zas, Jaime Sola, Emily Echavarria, Eduardo Cruz Toledo and others allegedly recruited buyers, including Clavelo, Mesa, Michael Gonzalez, Yanet Huet, Jose Salazar, Jorge Sola and Cynthia Velasquez.
To help their paperwork pass muster, the group allegedly had help from Maria Rosa Diaz, president of Miami-based brokerage Crisvan Investment Group Inc., who prepared and submitted fraudulent loan applications.
The documents misrepresented buyer deposits and borrowers’ occupation, income, financial stability and intent to occupy the property miles away from their South Florida homes.
Other defendants allegedly helped disguise kickbacks to purchasers as marketing fees.
The alleged scam could have far-reaching consequences. Each defendant faces a $1 million fine, mandatory restitution and up to 30 years in prison.