A San Ramon bank executive was convicted of six counts of mail fraud by a Federal Grand Jury Wednesday, according to reports. This is the second trial of Joel Blanford, 44, who participated in a scheme to defraud his employer.
Blanford worked as a sales representative for Long Beach Mortgage -- a wholesale subprime lender and former subsidiary of Washington Mutual Inc. -- where he earned compensation based on the volume of loans processed. Between April 2003 and October 2005, Blanford paid a loan coordinator to falsify documents, provide false verification of borrowers' employment or professional licensing status and to turn a blind eye to fraudulent representations contained in loan applications, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said.
"This verdict reflects the commitment of this office, the FBI and the IRS-CI to follow the facts to wherever they lead us," said Wagner. "We have now convicted seven people, including two bankers, two mortgage brokers, a real estate investor, and two straw purchasers, who participated at different levels of a complex loan origination mortgage fraud scheme involving numerous real estate transactions in the Stockton area."
During those years, Blanford received more than $1 million in commissions and other compensation from LBM, before taxes and payroll deductions, as a result of his scheme. Between April 2003 and October 2005, he paid the loan coordinator more than $50,000 in checks alone.
Six other defendants have been sentenced for crimes arising out of this mortgage fraud scheme. William T. Bridge, 41, of San Francisco, and his brother Paul Bridge, were loan brokers who paid illegal kickbacks to a loan coordinator at LBM between 2003 and 2006. William T. Bridge pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges, admitting that in each of those tax years, he derived more than $10,000 from criminal activity involving fraudulent loans funded by LBM on houses purchased in Sacramento and Stockton. Paul Bridge pleaded guilty to a violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. Both brothers testified at Blanford's trial.
Dublin resident John Ngo, 27, pleaded guilty to lying under oath before a federal grand jury. Between September 2001 and May 2006, while working as a senior loan coordinator at Long Beach Mortgage, he received approximately $100,000 in checks and bank transfers from a mortgage broker in order to ensure that fraudulent loan applications were processed and funded. In September 2007, Ngo testified falsely under oath before a federal grand jury investigating the mortgage fraud scheme in the San Joaquin County area that the broker had not given him any money. Ngo also testified at the Blanford trial.
Stockton residents Iftikhar Ahmad, 36; Manpreet Singh, 24; and Jose Serrano, 44, were indicted on October 25, 2007 for mail fraud and also charged with money laundering in connection with a property flipping scheme involving inflating home values. The mortgage loans on the properties involved in the scheme were arranged by the Bridge brothers, through Long Beach Mortgage.
William Bridge was sentenced in April 2010 to 21 months in prison and was ordered to pay $1,056,700 in restitution. Paul Bridge was sentenced in August 2010 to 36 months of probation. John Ngo was sentenced in September 2010 to nine months in prison. Iftikhar Ahmad was sentenced in February 2011 to 36 months in prison and was ordered to pay $382,750 in restitution. Jose Serrano was sentenced in November 2008 to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $219,000 in restitution. Manpreet Singh was sentenced in February 2009 to 60 months of probation and ordered to pay $163,500 in restitution.
An earlier trial of Joel Blanford was conducted in May 2012 but resulted in a hung jury. The jury verdicts returned Wednesday followed a seven-day retrial and sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 10. The maximum penalties for mail fraud affecting a financial institution is 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the value of the gain or loss, whichever is greater.