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Jan. 5, 2012

Four Sacramento Area Defendants Indicted For Mortgage Fraud

SACRAMENTO, Calif. United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that a federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging four defendants with mail fraud in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme that resulted in losses of at least $710,000 to lenders. Charged are Yevgeniy Charikov, 40, of West Sacramento; Vitaliy Tuzman, 40, of Citrus Heights; Nadia Talybov, 30, of Antelope; and Juliet Romanishin, 30, of West Sacramento. Charikov and Tuzman have also been charged with money laundering.

According to court records, Charikov, a real estate agent, used straw buyers to purchase properties in a declining real estate market and then immediately re-sold the properties to another straw buyer at fraudulently inflated prices. In order to qualify for the mortgage loans, the defendants allegedly prepared and submitted fraudulent loan applications to lenders, falsely stating the straw buyer's income, liabilities, and/or intent to occupy the home as a primary residence.

The indictment alleges that Charikov first recruited Tuzman and another straw buyer to each purchase a house in West Sacramento using 100 percent financing. Charikov then recruited Talybov to purchase both homes for over $200,000 more than what the properties had sold for only two to three months earlier. Romanishin, a loan officer and Charikov's wife, secured the financing for Tuzman's purchase and for one of Talybov's purchases. After the first set of straw buyers obtained the proceeds from Talybov's fraudulent purchases, they allegedly distributed a portion of the proceeds to Charikov. Talybov subsequently defaulted on the loans for both properties.

This case is the product of an extensive by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dominique N. Thomas.

If convicted of mail fraud, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted of money laundering, Charikov and Tuzman face a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the actual sentences will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

The charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Source: United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California

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