Scott N. Powers, the former CEO of Arizona-based mortgage loan originator American Mortgage Specialists Inc. (AMS), and David McMaster, a former officer of AMS, were sentenced today to serve 96 and 188 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in a $28 million scheme to defraud North Dakota-based BNC National Bank (BNC).
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon of the District of North Dakota; Christy Romero, Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); and Steve A. Linick, Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG) made the announcement.
Powers and McMaster were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland in the District of North Dakota. In addition to their prison terms, Powers and McMaster were each ordered to pay a money judgment to the government of approximately $28,564,470 and also to pay restitution to BNC bank in that same amount.
Powers and McMaster pleaded guilty on Oct. 19, 2012, to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud affecting a financial institution.
According to court documents, Powers and McMaster conspired from October 2007 to April 2010 to defraud BNC by making false representations regarding the financial and operational condition of AMS in order to obtain funding from BNC and personal benefits for themselves. Using funds provided by BNC under a participation agreement, AMS made residential real estate mortgage loans to borrowers and then sold the loans to banks and other lenders. As part of their fraud, Powers and McMaster caused AMS to inflate the dollar amount of the sales and to delay sending email notifications to BNC when specific loans were sold, and then used funds from newly sold loans to make payments on the earlier-sold loans. Powers and McMaster also caused false financial information about AMS to be sent to BNC, overstating AMS’s cash-on-hand and disguising delinquent tax payments being made to the Internal Revenue Service as marketing and advertising expenses.
BNC was a national bank with headquarters in Bismarck, N.D., and offices in several states, including Arizona. The bank was a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines, one of 12 regional banks established by Congress to support mortgage lending. BNC’s holding company received approximately $20 million in federal funds from TARP, and the holding company injected approximately $18 million of the TARP funds into BNC.
The fraud resulted in a loss of over $28 million to BNC. As a result of the loss, BNC had to sell off some of its assets and the bank was unable to make its required dividend payments to TARP for nearly two years on approximately $17 million the bank had received from TARP.
Lauretta Horton, the former Director of Accounting for AMS, and David Kaufman, the external auditor for AMS, were previously sentenced for offenses related to the fraud.
The investigation was conducted by agents assigned to SIGTARP and FHFA-OIG. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Robert A. Zink and Senior Litigation Counsel Jack B. Patrick of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and by Assistant U.S. Attorney Clare Hochhalter of the District of North Dakota, with the assistance of Trial Attorneys Ann Marie Blaylock and Darrin McCullough of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section.
This case is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.