United States Attorney's Office
Western District of Washington
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 17, 2010
United States Attorney’s Office
Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer
(206) 553-4110 Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov
Former Washington Resident Convicted of Multiple Counts of Conspiracy, Bank Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Money Laundering in Mortgage Fraud Scheme
Loan Originator Forged Documents, Defrauded Banks and Sellers in Scheme
WILLIAM S. POFF, 37, of Marshall, Michigan, a former resident of Washington State, was convicted today in U.S. District Court in Seattle of 30 felony counts of conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering offenses. POFF is one of five people arrested in June 2009, in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme that cheated banks and property sellers out of more than several million dollars. POFF was a licensed notary and worked as a loan originator. POFF represented himself in a seven day bench trial in front of U.S. District Judge James L. Robart. Following closing arguments today, Judge Robart convicted POFF of all counts brought by prosecutors, finding that POFF’s arguments to the court regarding his lack of involvement in the scheme were unpersuasive. POFF faces up to 30 years in prison when sentenced on June 14, 2010.
According to records filed in the case, the conspirators obtained financing from banks on the basis of false statements and applications and, in some cases, also from sellers who were convinced to extend private loans for a portion of the purchase price. These private loans, which were not disclosed to the banks, allowed the conspirators to obtain loan proceeds far beyond the value of the assets securing those loans, and beyond their ability to pay. In POFF’s trial, prosecutors focused on the purchases of eight different properties using various different means of deception, including straw buyers, forged settlement documents, lies on loan applications, inflated sales prices, and undisclosed seller financing. Prosecutors showed how POFF and his criminal associates pocketed $1.7 million, and how POFF used some of it for his living expenses, trips, and child support payments. Most of the properties are pending foreclosure.
These defendants have already entered guilty pleas in the case: Humberto A. Reyes-Rodriguez, a/k/a Tony Reyes, 43, of Federal Way, Washington, Alexis Ikilikyan, a/k/a Haikanush Ikilikyan, 30, of Auburn, Washington, Micki S. Thompson, 55, of Tacoma, Washington, and Mario A. Marroquin, 39, of Kent, Washington. In all, between 2005 and 2008, the conspirators used straw buyers to purchase and resell properties, obtaining more than 80 loans totaling more than $18 million. The conspirators submitted a variety of false information to the banks such as employment, income, citizenship status, assets and liabilities. The conspirators also created fictitious companies that were allegedly doing repair work on the properties. Money at closing would go to these entities that, in reality, had done no work on the property. The scheme involved fraudulent mortgage transactions in communities across the Puget Sound region: Des Moines, Tacoma, Seattle, Puyallup, Spanaway, SeaTac, Auburn, Bellevue, Renton, Lakewood, Fircrest, Kent, Pacific and Issaquah.
The conspirators did not just damage banks and financial institutions. Innocent sellers were harmed when they agreed to loan the buyer a portion of the purchase price, to be paid back over time. The sellers did not know that the conspirators had already obtained 100 percent financing from commercial lenders. When payments were not made and properties fell into foreclosure, and then were sold for less than the total of all loans secured by the property, the sellers holding private notes were left with nothing.
Mortgage fraud is a major part of 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.
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah Vogel and Michael Scoville.