A San Ramon resident was sentenced to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release for a mortgage fraud scheme, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said.
Following a seven-day trial, a jury found Joel Blanford, 44, guilty of six counts of mail fraud in September 2012. This was the second trial for Blanford, who participated in a scheme to defraud his employer. The first trial ended in a hung jury.
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, a release stated.
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.
"This investigation exposed a sophisticated chain of fraud that started at the homebuyer level and extended all the way to banking insiders. It is a lesson that those earning million-dollar paychecks are not exempt from significant criminal penalties," Wagner said.
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.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation in connection with the President's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.