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P R E S S   R E L E A S E

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

June 30, 2011


PERMIAN BASIN RESIDENTS SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR REAL ESTATE FRAUD

United States Attorney John E. Murphy announced that 35-year-old Jason Heath Morrison, of Midland, Texas, was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison followed by ten years of supervised release for his role in a real estate fraud scheme, as well as for his failure to register as a sex offender. Morrison's co-defendant, 35-year-old Marcus Jacob Rosenberger, of Odessa, Texas, was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for his roles in the real estate fraud scheme involving Morrison as well as a separate real estate fraud scheme.

In addition to their prison terms, Judge Junell ordered Morrison and Rosenberger to pay $173,495.79 in restitution to their victims. Judge Junell also ordered Rosenberger to pay an additional $170,108.80 to the victims of his second real estate fraud scheme. Finally, Judge Junell ordered Morrison and Rosenberger to pay special assessments to the crime victims fund of $1,500 and $1,300, respectively. Morrison and Rosenberger were sentenced by United States District Judge Robert Junell yesterday.

In February 2010, the Midland Police Department began investigating Morrison and Rosenberger for real estate fraud. Morrison and Rosenberger's scheme involved convincing distressed homeowners, whose homes were in foreclosure, to sign over their properties to Morrison and Rosenberger with only the promise that Morrison and Rosenberger would keep the house out of foreclosure, resell it, and retain any profit. Morrison and Rosenberger then placed ads in local newspapers advertising the homes for sale by owner. Buyers gave Morrison and Rosenberger thousands of dollars in down payments, and then proceeded to pay monthly payments on their new homes. But Morrison and Rosenberger did not apply the buyers' monies towards the underlying mortgage, which resulted in several of the homes actually be foreclosed and sold at auction, unbeknownst to the original homeowner or the new buyer. Several of the new buyers were evicted and they all lost all the money they paid to Morrison and Rosenberger.

After being arrested and placed on bond with an ankle monitor, Morrison cut off the monitor and fled the jurisdiction, driving to California and then Washington State where he was arrested by local police. Morrison, a sex offender, was required to register in Washington State when he arrived there, but he failed to do so. Consequently, he was charged in a second indictment and pled guilty to failure to register as a sex offender.

In January 2006, Rosenberger and Patrick Cordero engaged in a different real estate fraud scheme in which they obtained money from a lending company to refinance Rosenberger's personal residence, but failed to pay off the original mortgage and instead converted those monies for personal gain. Cordero pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud on April 20, 2011, and is scheduled to be sentenced at 3:00pm on July 12, 2011. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

On January 21, 2011, Morrison pleaded guilty to 12 counts of wire fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of failure to register as a sex offender. On April 14, 2011, Rosenberger was found guilty of all 12 counts of wire fraud by a federal jury sitting in Midland. On May 9, 2011, Rosenberger pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in connection with the real estate fraud scheme involving Cordero.

These cases were investigated by the Midland Police Department, Texas Department of Insurance and the United States Marshals Service. Assistant United States Attorney Austin Berry prosecuted these cases on behalf of the Government.


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


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