United States Attorney
Eastern District of California
Friday, September 30, 2011
Eight Defendants Charged in Mortgage Fraud Scheme in California
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A federal grand jury returned an indictment on Sept. 28, 2011, charging Valeri Mysin, 31, of Citrus Heights, Calif.; Angela Shavlovsky, 52, of Sacramento, Calif.; Nikolay Katinskiy, 28, of Lynwood, Wash.; Michael Kennedy, 44, of Miami Beach, Fla.; Alexander Kokhanets, 34, of Roseville, Calif.; Boris Murzak, 38, and Zinaida Murzak, 40, both of Sacramento; and Vitaliy Tuzman, 31, of West Sacramento, Calif., with conspiracy to commit mail fraud in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme involving the purchase of seven homes. Katinsky and Kennedy were also charged with money laundering in connection with the scheme, announced U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California Benjamin B. Wagner. Shavlovsky, Katinskiy and Kennedy, were arrested by FBI agents yesterday afternoon, and Kokhanets, Boris Murzak and Zinaida Murzak were issued a summons. They are expected to be arraigned before the U.S. Magistrate judge today at 2:00 p.m.
According to court records, the mortgage fraud scheme involved purchasing homes at prices substantially higher than the homes were worth in order for the defendants to receive cash at the close of escrow. The indictment alleges that Shavlovsky recruited Katinsky and Kennedy to act as strawbuyers and finance 100 percent of the artificially inflated purchase price of homes by submitting fraudulent loan applications to lenders, which falsely represented Katinsky’s and Kennedy’s employment, income, and intent to occupy the homes as their primary residence.
According to the indictment, Mysin, a licensed California real estate agent, prepared the phony applications and attempted to disguise his involvement with these fraudulent loans by making it appear that another loan officer in his office had handled them. Kokhanets, Boris Murzak, Zinaida Murzak and Tuzman were homeowners who allegedly sold their properties as part of this scheme. In order to artificially inflate the sales price of their homes, Kokhanets, Tuzman and the Murzaks are alleged to have signed fake invoices falsely claiming that repairs or improvements had been completed on their properties. After the lenders funded the fraudulent loans, the defendants diverted a portion of the proceeds from the inflated sales price directly to themselves and to businesses controlled by the defendants and others. All seven properties were foreclosed, resulting in more than $1.8 million in losses for mortgage lenders.
This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys R. Steven Lapham and Dominique N. Thomas are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud, 10 years in prison for money laundering, and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Mortgage fraud is a priority area for the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information on the task force, visit www.StopFraud.gov.