Kirby Lofts Scheme Results in More Prison Time for Previously Convicted Felon
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 25, 2012|
HOUSTON—Brenda East, 51, formerly of Houston, has been sentenced to 57 months in federal prison for her role in obtaining home loans in the Kirby Lofts condominium complex and others, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. East, who is currently serving 58 months in federal prison for an unrelated conviction, pleaded guilty to this offense May 25, 2011.
In this case, East pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud arising from the scheme to defraud residential lenders in connection with single family residences and individual condominium purchases in a building located at 917 Main in Houston, aka The Kirby Lofts.
The Kirby Lofts and other single family homes were sham sales. From about December 2004 to October 2006, East, along with other co-conspirators, recruited individuals with good credit to act as borrowers in applications for mortgage loans to purchase units in Kirby Lofts and elsewhere. East assisted these “straw borrowers” with providing false information and documents, including bogus tax letters and false verifications of bank balances and employment, to induce lenders to fund residential home purchases.
Co-conspirators submitted fake invoices for payment from loan proceeds and used the money to pay East, themselves, and straw borrowers from loan proceeds.
Today, U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal ordered East to begin serving this 57-month prison term in 2014 after she completes her current term of imprisonment for an unrelated case in which she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft in September 2009. Judge Rosenthal also ordered she pay $2.2 million in restitution and will be on supervised release for three years once she is finally released from prison.
Co-conspirators Derwin Frazier, 47, and Veronica Frazier, 45, both of Pearland, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, respectively, and are pending sentencing on November 26, 2012. Duane Wardell, 51, of Palestine, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and is awaiting sentencing on December 14, 2012.
The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Belinda Beek and Martha Minnis are prosecuting the case.
The case is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) and was part of Operation Stolen Dreams, a nationwide dragnet that targeted mortgage fraudsters throughout the country.
The FFETF 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 is 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 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.