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P R E S S   R E L E A S E


Dec. 19, 2011


PHOENIX, Ariz. On December 12, 2011, U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton sentenced several defendants to prison for their involvement in a complex mortgage fraud conspiracy.

Henry Oliver Ford, a.k.a. Cleothus Lefty Jackson, 37, of West Palm Beach, Florida, was sentenced to 30 months of prison. Vincent James Vendittelli, 32, of Scottsdale, Arizona, was sentenced to 27 months in prison. Jason Mark Chrzanowski, 32, of Farmington, Minnesota, was sentenced to 27 months of prison. All three had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1349 and received lesser sentences based on their cooperation in another mortgage fraud investigation.

Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel stated: "The defendants' greed led them to blatantly lie to lending institutions and dupe individuals into getting loans they were not qualified for or had absolutely no means to afford."

"These individuals were building a real estate empire founded in fraud and deceit and, like a house of cards, it quickly collapsed when their illicit scheme was exposed." said Matt Allen, Special Agent in Charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Arizona. "HSI will continue its financial investigations to uncover those entities that seek to manipulate the financial system for their own personal gain."

Beginning around April 2005, and continuing until June 2007 the defendants and others engaged in a complex conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud. Their mortgage fraud scheme involved purchasing or obtaining a home through a third-party. They would inflate the sales price of the home, and then use a third-party buyer ("straw buyers") to purchase the home. The straw buyer would be told that they could purchase a residential home(s) with the use of their credit score. Additionally, they would be told that they could purchase a home without the use of their own money and that the defendants would maintain the mortgage. The straw purchasers would then be paid a flat fee or a percentage of the sales price of the home after the home closed at escrow. The defendants would then sell the property after 12 to 18 months. Many of the homes purchased through the conspiracy were sold at prices in excess of $1 million and were located in Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, and elsewhere.

All of the straw buyers were directed to Vendittelli at Spectrum Financial Group to obtain the home loan. Vendittelli and others created loan applications which falsely represented the straw buyer's income, assets, liabilities, intention to occupy the house as a primary residence, and amount and source of the down payment. In some cases, the defendants would help qualify the straw buyer for the loans by: 1) adding the straw buyer to a bank account, owned or controlled by the defendant, which contained a large amount of money; 2) depositing money into the straw buyer's bank account; or 3) preparing false verifications of rent or employment for the straw buyers.

The properties purchased in this conspiracy have gone into foreclosure and have caused millions of dollars in losses to lending institutions.

The investigation in this case was conducted by U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Raymond K. Woo and Kevin M. Rapp, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

RELEASE NUMBER: 2011-280(Ford et al.)

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

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