Florida Loan Officer Pleads Guilty in $6.5 Million Mortgage Fraud

Alejandro Curbelo, aka Alex Curbelo, a loan officer for Great Country Mortgage Bankers in Miami, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to complicity in a mortgage scheme that cost the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) $6.5 million.  Curbelo, who will be sentenced in June, may receive up to 20 years in prison on a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to charges brought in the U.S. District Court, Curbelo was involved in the sale and financing of units at two Miami condominium complexes.  He admitted that he conspired with others to create and submit false and fraudulent Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage loan applications along with documents that made it appear that borrowers who were unqualified for mortgage loans due to insufficient income, high debt levels, and accounts in collection were competent borrowers.  Curbelo and others also offered the borrowers cash back after closing as an incentive to purchase the units and did not disclose the payments on the on the  application documents.  After the loans closed the borrowers defaulted on the FHA guaranteed mortgages and which went into foreclosure.   FHA had to take title to the units and reimburse the lenders.

The fraud occurred over a period from February 2006 and July 2008 and was investigated by the HUD Office of Inspector General as part of the Miami Mortgage Fraud Strike Force.  Curbelo was charged with wire fraud because he paid the loan closing costs on behalf of the borrowers via interstate wire. 

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MAURICE JONES SWORN IN AS HUD’S DEPUTY SECRETARY

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has reached settlement agreements with Magna Bank in Nashville, TN, and Home Loan Center, Inc., in Irvine, CA, resolving allegations that the two lenders denied mortgage loans to women because they were pregnant and temporarily on maternity leave. HUD is announcing the discrimination settlements as part of its annual Fair Housing Month commemoration kick-off.

March Housing Starts Down 5.8%; Permits Up 4.5%

The U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reported this morning that permits for privately owned housing construction were issued at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 747,000 units in March.  This is an increase of 4.5 percent from the revised February rate of 715,000 and a 30.1 percent jump from the 574,000 pace set in March 2011.  February’s permits were originally estimated at 717,000.

Permits were issued for single family homes at a rate of 462,000, down 3.5 percent from the upwardly revised (from 472,000) February figure of 479.000.  Construction was authorized for 262,000 units in buildings of five or more units, an increase of 24.2 percent from the previous month.  The multi-family permitting rate was originally thought to have surged in February to 233,000 units from 212,000 in January; instead the revised rate of 211,000 was a net loss from the previous month.

Housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 654,000, a 5.8 percent decrease from the revised February estimate of 694,000 but 10 percent above the March 2011 rate of 593,000.  The February number was revised down from an original estimate of 698,000.

The pace of single family starts was down 0.2 percent from February to 462,000 and the start rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 178,000 compared to 222,000 in February.  Single family starts for February, originally estimated at 457,000 were revised up to 463,000.

Housing units were completed at a rate of 600,000, 4.3 percent above the revised February figure of 576,000 and 0.5 percent higher than the rate of 597,000 one year earlier.  Single family completions were at a rate of 440,000, 1.4 percent higher than the February pace of 434,000.

At the end of the period there were 88,400 permits issued for which construction had not yet begun compared to 79,000 the month before.  Of this number 46,700 permits were for single family houses, up from 44,200.  An estimated 447,000 homes are under construction compared to 445,000 in February and 420,000 one year ago.

Here are the results on a regional basis.

 

Region

 

March Permits

% chg.

Feb -Mar

% chg. Mar ’11 – Mar. ’12

 

Mar. Starts

% chg.

Feb – Mar

% chg. Mar ’11 – Mar ’12

Northeast

79,000

-6.0

31.7

89,000

32.8

45.9

Midwest

121,000

1.7

28.7

102,000

1.0

25.9

South

368,000

0.3

24.3

334,000

-15.9

-0.9

West

179,000

23.4

44.4

129,000

0.0

13.2

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HUD INDEFINITELY DEBARS FOUR INDIVIDUALS FOLLOWING REVERSE MORTGAGE SCAM THAT TARGETED SENIORS

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced the indefinite debarment of three South Florida mortgage loan officers and a Pittsburgh title agent following their criminal convictions on charges they defrauded elderly borrowers, mortgage lenders and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Marcos Echevarria, Louis Gendason, John Incandela and Kimberly Mackey pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for their part in a $2.5 million nation-wide reverse mortgage scam. All four individuals are currently serving prison terms.

U.S. ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT AGAINST CHICAGO OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT COMPANIES

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a settlement with Wilmette Real Estate and Management Company, LLC; WR Property Management, LLC; 14 affiliated limited liability companies and Mr. Cameel Halim in Chicago and Evanston, Illinois.