United States Attorney
Eastern District of California
January 21, 2011
Ten People Indicted in Wide-Ranging Real Estate Scam
Multiple Lenders Defrauded of more than $20 Million
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – David Marshall Crisp, 31; Carlyle Lee Cole, 63; Julie Dianne Farmer, 42; Sneha Ramesh Mohammadi, 49; Jayson Peter Costa, 38; Jeriel Salinas, 29; Robinson Dinh Nguyen, 30; Michael Angelo Munoz, 31; Jennifer Anne Crisp, 29; and Caleb Lee Cole, 35, were charged in a 56-count indictment with conspiracy to commit bank, mail and wire fraud, and with individual counts of mail fraud, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today. Certain of the defendants were also charged with wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to launder money. The indictment was returned Jan. 13 by a federal grand jury in Fresno and unsealed today.
David Crisp was arrested last night in San Diego. Carlyle Cole was arrested last night in Ventura County, Calif. Farmer, Mohammadi, Costa, Salinas, Munoz, and Caleb Cole were arrested yesterday in Bakersfield, Calif. Nguyen was arrested yesterday in Monterey, Calif. Jennifer Crisp surrendered to authorities this morning.
David Crisp and Carlyle Cole were the owners of Crisp, Cole & Associates (CCA), also known as Crisp & Cole Real Estate. They also controlled Tower Lending, CCA’s in-house mortgage broker business. Julie Farmer, Sneha Mohmamadi, Jayson Costa, Jeriel Salinas, Robinson Nguyen, and Michael Munoz were employed at CCA and/or at Tower Lending. Jennifer Crisp is the wife of David Crisp and Caleb Cole is the son of Carlyle Cole. Five other persons, including Megan Balod, Leslie Sluga, Kevin Sluga, a CPA who handled accounting matters for CCA, and Jerald Teixeira and Christopher Stovall, both former loan officers for Tower Lending, have previously pleaded guilty in related cases.
The indictment alleges that, from approximately January 2004 to September 2007, the defendants perpetrated a scheme to defraud mortgage lenders by submitting fraudulent loan applications with material misrepresentations, including misrepresentations concerning the borrower’s income, assets, employment status, and intent to use the home as the borrower’s primary residence. The indictment alleges that the defendants perpetrated the scheme in part by flipping homes, which is the selling of a single home on multiple occasions, through a series of fraudulent transactions to co-defendants, straw buyers, and others in order to artificially inflate the prices of the residences. The defendants typically increased the loan amounts and used close to 100 percent financing, in order to extract the inflated equity amounts from the properties on each financing transaction. CCA generally acted as the real estate brokerage on the sales, and Tower Lending acted as the mortgage brokerage on the financing transactions, generating substantial commissions and fees for the defendants on each transaction. The scheme involved more than $20 million in losses to lenders.
This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the FBI with assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General. They were assisted by the Bakersfield Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stanley A. Boone and Kirk E. Sherriff are prosecuting the case.
The maximum statutory penalty for the conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud counts is 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The maximum penalty for money laundering is 10 years in prison and a fine of $500,000. Any sentence 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.
This law enforcement action is part of the work being done by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. 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. One component of the FFETF is the national Securities Fraud Working Group, which is tasked with combating investment fraud schemes. For more information on the task force, visit www.StopFraud.gov.