Prosecution Team Dedicated to Fighting Mortgage Fraud. The PAO has a team of three people dedicated to fighting mortgage fraud, consisting of two attorneys and one investigator.
Prosecution Team Dedicated to Fighting Mortgage Fraud
The PAO has a team of three people dedicated to fighting mortgage fraud, consisting of two attorneys and one investigator. Senior DPA Jennifer Atchison, DPA Hugo Torres and Investigator Linda Williamson make up this fraud fighting trio. Because the team has their own investigator they are able to initiate their own criminal inquiries.
DPA Hugo Torres, Senior DPA Jennifer Atchison
and Investigator Linda Williamson of the PAO’s
Mortgage Fraud Unit.
In 2003 the legislature created the Mortgage Lending Fraud Prosecution Account, which created an ability to prosecute mortgage fraud in Washington State and came from a $1 fee on every deed of trust recorded. The Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) oversees this account and funds the mortgage fraud group. DFI refers cases to the PAO for criminal investigation, but the mortgage fraud group also reviews referrals from law enforcement, the public, or even the media. DPA Torres, is cross-designated as a Special Assistant United States Attorney and has the ability to prosecute cases in federal court, as well as state court.
One such case was Emiel Kandi, a hard money lender who once described himself as a wolf. He submitted false information in at least 19 loans as a way to make them appear legitimate to Pierce Commercial Bank, as well as preyed upon desperate borrowers who were losing their homes to foreclosure. Kandi is facing a sentence of over six years when he is sentenced in September in federal court.
Mortgage fraud often intersects with elder abuse and one example is the case brought against Norma Cheesman. She was an in-home caregiver for Katsu and Charles Bradley, who were both in their 80’s with dementia. Within a few months of beginning employment, Cheesman obtained a power of attorney and used it to deplete the victims’ life savings, including the equity in their home. Cheesman obtained a reverse mortgage by literally guiding Katsu Bradley’s hand to sign her name on the loan documents because Ms. Bradley was too infirm to sign on her own. In all, Cheesman stole over $500,000 from the victims’ in a little over a year. Cheesman was convicted of these crimes and received an exceptional sentence of 18 months.
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