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May 13, 2011

Walter Bressler Enters Guilty Plea In Mortgage Fraud / Equity Stripping Sceme

CONCORD, N.H. Former Nashua resident Walter Bressler, 42, of Frisco, Texas, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to operating a mortgage fraud and equity stripping scheme involving numerous New Hampshire properties. At a hearing before Senior U.S. District Judge Joseph DiClerico, Bressler admitted to violating the federal mail fraud statute in connection with the scheme.

During the plea hearing, Bressler acknowledged that between March 2005 through October 2006, he participated with other individuals in a scheme to obtain title to the homes of dozens of distressed homeowners who were facing foreclosures on their homes due to financial difficulties. Bressler and others induced the transfer of titles by promising that the homeowners could avoid foreclosure, remain in their homes while paying rent, and later re-purchase the homes. However, after obtaining title to the homes, the scheme participants arranged re-sales of the properties to straw buyers, and obtained new mortgage financing in the names of the straws in amounts that exceeded the original homeowners' loans. The scheme participants used some of the funds from the larger loans to pay off the original loans, and kept the rest of the funds for themselves. For a time, scheme participants made payments on the new mortgages using rent monies paid by the original homeowners, but later defaulted on the loans. The distressed homeowners, who were given to believe that they could re-purchase the homes in two years, in fact had no such realistic opportunities because the defendant and his cohorts stripped the equity from the homes, left the properties encumbered with larger mortgage liens, and then defaulted on them.

An essential part of the scheme involved the use of straw borrowers, who were induced to allow their names and credit to be used on loan applications in connection with the scheme. In typical transactions, straws were paid $5,000 each time they attended a closing and signed the relevant paperwork. None of the straws had any stake in the properties or any intention of repaying the loans obtained in their names. The loan applications contained many false statements regarding items such as income, assets, liabilities and the intention to occupy the properties as their residences. In a dozen transactions, various relatives of Bressler acted as straws. Bressler admitted in his plea agreement that the scheme caused losses to lenders of more than $2.5 million. His sentencing is scheduled for August 11, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.

This case arose from an investigation conducted jointly by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Bedford Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Gunnison.

Source: United States Attorney's Office for the District of New Hampshire

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